Bottom line: The risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was increased in children of mothers with the three main types of diabetes that complicate pregnancy, findings that add new information on type 1 diabetes and extend what is already known about type 2 and gestational diabetes.
Why The Research Is Interesting: Maternal preexisting type 2 diabetes (T2D) and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) diagnosed by 26 weeks have been associated with increased risk of ASD in children in prior research. Less is known about ASD risk associated with maternal preexisting type 1 diabetes (T1D).
Who and When: 419,425 children born at 28 to 44 weeks from 1995-2012.
What (Study Measures and Outcomes): Maternal T1D, T2D and GDM (exposures); diagnosis in children of ASD, which includes autistic disorders, Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (outcomes)
How (Study Design): This was an observational study. Researchers were not intervening for purposes of the study and cannot control all the natural differences that could explain the study findings.
Authors: Anny H. Xiang, PhD, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Pasadena, California, and coauthors
Results: Risk of ASD was higher in children exposed in utero to maternal preexisting T1D, T2D and gestational diabetes diagnosed by 26 weeks compared with no maternal diabetes exposure.
Study Limitations: Risk factors of the father, along with other intrauterine and postnatal exposures, couldn't be assessed.
Study Conclusions: Results suggest the severity of maternal diabetes and the timing of exposure (early vs late in pregnancy) may be associated with the risk of ASD in children of mothers with diabetes.
Read the full study here.