Katherine Bowers, PhD, MPH.

Katherine Bowers, PhD, MPH

A new study from Cincinnati Children’s shows that scientists can use electronic medical records and birth information to verify and strengthen an already suspected link between autistic children and pregnant mothers with obesity and diabetes.

The findings, posted online Jan. 29, 2016, in Autism Research, reveal that pregnant mothers with obesity or gestational diabetes were 1.5 times more likely to have a child with ASD compared to other mothers. The increased risk of ASD for pregnant mothers with both obesity and gestational diabetes was two-fold.

The findings fit well into an increasing body of evidence that obesity and gestational diabetes may be associated with autism development.

“Although previous studies report a link between maternal obesity and diabetes during pregnancy to autism, we demonstrate that electronic medical data can verify and establish the extent of this link across large populations,” says Katherine Bowers, PhD, MPH, study senior author and a member of the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Cincinnati Children’s.