Women with Type 2 diabetes, or those who are obese during pregnancy, risk having a child with autism or other developmental disorders a new study has found.

Researchers at the University of California Davis studied mothers and their children over a period of 7 years and found that high glucose levels during pregnancy could affect brain development in the foetus.  In mothers with Type 2 diabetes during pregnancy, the researchers found that 9.3% of their children had autism, while more than 20% of obese mothers had children with autism or some form of developmental delay.

Paula Krakowiak, from the MIND Institute at the University of California Davis, said: “Our finding that these maternal conditions may be linked with neurodevelopmental problems in children raises concerns and therefore may have serious public-health implications.” But Dr Matthew Hobbs, head of research at Diabetes UK, was cautious about the findings and link to diabetes: “This study considers the association between Type 2 and Gestational diabetes in pregnant mothers and developmental disorders in their children. It is important to note that while it does show an association, it does not show that diabetes causes developmental problems. Further research is needed to answer some questions which were not investigated in this study. “This study found that children born to mothers with Type 2 or gestational diabetes were about 2.3 times more likely to have developmental delay, compared to mothers without diabetes and who were not obese.  It found that there was no significant association between a mother having diabetes and the chance of her children having autism.”