Is it true that being pregnant with diabetes increases the risk of autistic children?
Until now, researchers have found that autism is not only caused by one factor, but many things that influence it. It is known that this condition is also associated with diabetes in pregnant women. What is the relationship between autism babies and diabetes? Check out the full explanation below.
Relationship between Diabetes during Pregnancy and Autism in Babies
Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder of the brain that affects the ability to social interaction, behavior, and both verbal and non-verbal communication.
Until now, the exact cause of autism is not known. The researchers found that autism is influenced by various factors, both genetic, non-genetic, or environmental.
The chance of a baby being born with autism is higher when the mother has several problems in pregnancy, including gestational diabetes.
More than 15 percent of pregnancies worldwide are accompanied by diabetes; either gestational diabetes, type 1 diabetes mellitus, or type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy in women who have never had diabetes before.
Several studies have been conducted to determine the relationship between diabetes in pregnancy and the increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in the unborn baby.
A study published in 2015 involving 3388 children stated that mothers who suffer from gestational diabetes starting at 26 weeks of gestation have a risk of giving birth to autistic babies.
Another study in 2020 involving 2 million individuals concluded that mothers who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 27 and 30 weeks are generally more prone to giving birth to children who have problems in brain neurodevelopment.
Pregnant women who suffer from gestational diabetes will experience impaired glucose regulation in their bodies. As a result, insulin production in the fetus will increase. This increase in insulin production requires a large amount of oxygen, so that the supply of oxygen to the brain will be reduced.
In addition, diabetes in pregnant women also causes a lack of iron supply to the fetus in the womb. Lack of oxygen and iron is considered to be the cause of autism in babies born to mothers with diabetes.
However, keep in mind that gestational diabetes is not the only cause of autism. Other factors, such as inflammation during pregnancy can also be a contributing factor.
Also Read: 8 Choices of Cooking Oil that are Safe for Diabetics
Lowering the Risk of Autism
Several studies state that there are ways prospective parents can do to reduce the risk of a child being born with autism. Some of the ways include:
- Having children after the age of 21 and before the age of 35, either the mother or the father.
- Avoid smoking or other activities that require you to be in a toxic environment.
- Make regular visits to the obstetrician.
- Avoiding activities or situations that can cause stress.
In addition, consistent consumption of supplements can also provide benefits to the fetus in the womb. Some of the recommended supplements, among them are: folic acid, omega-3, and vitamin D3.
These supplements can boost the body’s immune system, support the breastfeeding process, and provide for vitamin deficiencies. All of these may reduce the risk of autism in infants.
Prevent Gestational Diabetes
While there’s no sure way to prevent gestational diabetes, a healthy lifestyle can help.
Here are some ways you can do to prevent diabetes in pregnant women, including:
1. Regular Exercise
Regular exercise before and during pregnancy can help prevent gestational diabetes. You can exercise for 30 minutes every day. Some activities you can do are walking, cycling, and swimming.
2. Consumption of Healthy Food
Choose foods that are high in fiber but low in fat and calories. You can consume more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. It is important to pay attention to food portions and ensure nutritional needs are met at each meal.
3. Maintain Normal Weight
Experiencing weight gain during pregnancy is natural and classified as healthy. However, if you gain weight too quickly, then the risk of gestational diabetes will also increase.
You can consult with your doctor to find out a reasonable weight gain during pregnancy.
In the end, autism is a disorder of the brain nerves that has many causative factors. To reduce the risk, you can live a healthy lifestyle and keep your blood sugar normal.
- Anonymous. What Causes Autism? https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-causes-autism. (Accessed December 29, 2022).
- Anonymous. 2021. Gestational Diabetes. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/gestational.html/. (Accessed December 29, 2022).
- Anonymous. 2022. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Signs and Symptoms. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/signs.htm. (Accessed December 29, 2022).
- Anonymous. 2022. Gestational Diabetes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gestational-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20355339. (Accessed December 29, 2022).
- Chen, Shuyun, et al. 2020. Association Of Maternal Diabetes With Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder And Intellectual Disability. https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/50/2/459/5998422. (Accessed December 29, 2022).
- Cherney, Kristeen and Jill Seladi-Schulman. 2021. Everything You Need to Know About Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). https://www.healthline.com/health/autism. (Accessed December 29, 2022).
- Krakowiak, Paula, et al. 2012. Maternal Metabolic Conditions And Risk For Autism And Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22492772/. (Accessed December 29, 2022).
- Rudy, Lisa Joe. 2021. Autism Risks Related to Pregnancy and Birth. https://www.verywellhealth.com/autism-risks-in-pregnancy-birth-5207680. (Accessed December 29, 2022).
- Xiang, Anny H., et al. 2015. Association Of Maternal Diabetes With Autism In Offspring. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25871668/. (Accessed December 29, 2022).
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