New research examines link between pregnancy weight gain, autism spectrum disorders

Published: Monday, Oct. 28 2013 12:05 a.m. MDT

"We hypothesize that excess pregnancy weight gain serves as a marker of gestational phenomena leading to autism spectrum disorders rather than as a direct risk factor," the study states. "Even in genetically vulnerable offspring, the proposed underlying autism spectrum disorder etiology may be mediated by potentially modifiable factors."

Researchers at the U. are working on substantiating their findings by collecting blood samples during the pregnancy of autism-related cases. If biomarkers are found showing a higher risk of the condition, the study states that "a window of clinical opportunity could emerge for this mechanism of injury to be prevented or attenuated."

Intervention, researchers believe, may span the range from maternal education and wellness programs to development of new drugs that could help counteract the effects of added weight during pregnancy.


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