Gestational diabetes is a condition in which pregnant women who have never had diabetes before have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures reveal that it is detected in 9.2% of pregnancies, and if untreated, it can affect the baby and the mother.
A new study has revealed that mothers who develop diabetes during the first 26 weeks of pregnancy may have a higher risk of having a baby who will develop autism. While mothers who developed gestational diabetes after the 26th week of pregnancy did not have any such higher risk of developing autism.
Lead author Anny Xiang of the medical consortium Kaiser Permanente Southern California said, "Future research should focus on determining whether early diagnosis and treatment of diabetes during pregnancy can reduce the risk of autism."
Researchers analyzed the medical records of 322,000 children born at Kaiser Permanente Southern California's medical centers between January 1995 and December 2009. They found that if the fetus was exposed to gestational diabetes before reaching the 26th week of gestation, the chances of the child developing autism increased by 42%.
However, the authors noted that their project was an observational study, meaning that it reveals a correlation rather than describing a cause-effect relationship. Co-author Edward Curry said, "Our study also suggests that early tests for autism should be standard for children born to women whose gestational diabetes was detected before 26 weeks of pregnancy."
The study is published in the American Medical Association's JAMA Internal Medicine