The Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Thomas Frazier says, "There is an increased risk, but not specifically for autism. It looks like the risk is more general. In fact, the biggest risk was that there would be some problems with expressive language development. So, how the kids would develop the language and be able use it as speech."
Beyond speech and language delays, children born to obese mothers are twice as likely to have hyperactivity or cognitive issues. Researchers believe a mother's obesity causes metabolic stress that can cross over the placenta, impacting the fetus.
Dr. Frazier says the findings underscore the importance of good maternal health.
"If moms want to have healthy kids this is important information for them," says Dr. Frazier. "They need to know that if you really want to give your kid the best start in the world, then you just have to pay very careful attention to your own health."
For a mother and her child's health, doctors recommend obese women reduce their weight to a healthy level before they become pregnant. And if they're already pregnant, women who are in these high-risk categories need to make sure they consult a health care professional to help manage their blood sugar and blood pressure correctly.
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