(HealthDay News) – Maternal metabolic conditions (MCs) increase the risk that a child will be born with a neurodevelopmental disorder, such as autism or developmental delay.

Paula Krakowiak, from the University of California in Davis, and colleagues studied children aged 2–5 years who were enrolled in the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment study, including 517 with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), 172 with developmental delays (DD), and 315 controls. Children’s diagnoses were confirmed with standardized assessments, and information about maternal conditions was derived from medical records or was self-reported in structured interviews.

The researchers found that MCs were more prevalent among case mothers than controls. Mothers with MCs had a significantly increased likelihood of having a child with ASD (odds ratio [OR], 1.61) or DD (OR, 2.35) compared with controls. Among ASD cases, children of women with diabetes had Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL) expressive language scores that were significantly lower (0.4 standard deviations [SD]) than children of mothers without MCs. Among children without ASD, those who were exposed to any MC scored significantly lower on all MSEL and Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales subscales and composites (by at least 0.4 SD).

“Maternal MCs may be broadly associated with neurodevelopmental problems in children,” the authors write. “With obesity rising steadily, these results appear to raise serious public health concerns.”

One author disclosed receiving grant support from Autism Speaks.

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