Obesity prior to pregnancy found to increase risk of autism, according to new study
04/27/2018 // Michelle Simmons // Views

Being obese before getting pregnant has been found to increase the chance of having a child with autism, according to a study. The study, conducted by researchers at Northwestern University, found that mothers whose waists were at least 80 centimeters (cm) before pregnancy had a 65 percent higher chance of giving birth to a child with autism.

The researchers investigated the relationship between a mother's obesity and her child's autism. They reviewed the data of 36,451 mothers who gave birth between 2007 and 2008 and underwent a National Health Screening Examination within one year of their pregnancy. They used waist circumference as a measure instead of body mass index (BMI). After that, they followed up the babies to see if they developed autism.

“Waist circumference is the best way to measure visceral fat – body fat stored in the abdominal cavity and therefore around a number of important organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines,” Geum Joon Cho, the leader of the study, said in a report published on the website Express.co.uk.

Cho and her team found that 265 of the babies were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. In addition, they found that maternal obesity increased the risk of autism by 65 percent.

“Children born to mothers with a waist 80 centimeters (31.5 inches) or more before pregnancy showed a 65 percent increase in the risk of autism than those born to a mother with a smaller waist,” Cho said.

Cho explained that inflammation may contribute to the association between obesity and autism. Both the inflammation of the uterus and the fetal brain are associated with the development of autism. Moreover, the number of circulating inflammatory cytokines increase with higher amounts of visceral fat. The findings of the study were presented at a meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago, USA.


In addition to being born to an obese mother, another possible cause of the increased risk for autism in children is the increased use of vaccines. Many vaccines not only contain thimerosal, a preservative made with methylmercury that is extremely toxic to the nervous system, but also chemical adjuvants such as squalene, which directly results in inflammation of the nervous system. In fact, the rates of autism increased together with the rise in vaccines of children.

How to lose visceral fat

Also known as belly fat, visceral fat is located inside the abdominal cavity and is wrapped around the internal organs. Having too much of this fat is dangerous. In fact, it was associated with a higher risk of various diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, and even certain cancers. That's why it is important to get rid of it to avoid these health dangers. Here are some ways on how to lose visceral fat:

  • Exercise regularly – Visceral fat is easier to get rid off with aerobic exercises, such as running, biking, and swimming, compared to resistance training.
  • Eat more protein – Protein is known to help in losing weight and belly fat. Moreover, it may prevent insulin resistance. Insulin promotes fat storage, particularly around the belly.
  • Consume polyunsaturated fats – Foods rich in polyunsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds, and fish, can help in losing visceral fat. In contrast, saturated fats, like in the form of palm oil, cause a person to gain more fat around the belly.
  • Eat more soluble fiber – Soluble fibers help reduce visceral fat by suppressing your appetite and keeping gut bacteria healthy.
  • Reduce added sugar intake – Added sugar is unhealthy. It does not provide vitamins and minerals. In addition, consuming more of it can result in weight gain. Thus, eating less of added sugar may help lose visceral fat.
  • Get enough sleep – Studies suggested that a lack of sleep may increase the risk of visceral fat gain. Thus, having at least seven hours of sleep every day may prevent visceral fat gain.

Read more news stories and studies on women's health by going to WomensHealth.news.

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