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There is an emerging body of evidence demonstrating that maternal obesity at the time of conception increases the risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) among offspring. We explored whether pre-pregnancy weight was related to autistic-like traits among offspring not diagnosed with ASD. A large sample of women, recruited during the second trimester of pregnancy, had their height measured and reported their pre-pregnancy weight. These measurements were then converted to a Body Mass Index (BMI) using the formula: (weight in kilograms)/(height in metres2). At 19–20 years of age, 1238 offspring of these women completed a measure of autistic-like traits, the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ). Regression analyses identified a positive association between increasing maternal pre-pregnancy BMI and increasing AQ Total Score amongst offspring; this association was maintained even after controlling for a range of variables including maternal/obstetric factors (age at conception, education, smoking, alcohol consumption, hypertensive diseases, diabetes, threatened abortion), paternal BMI at pregnancy, and child factors (parity, sex) (P <.01, R2=.03). Chi-square analyses found that women with pre-pregnancy obesity (BMI ≥ 30) were more likely to have offspring with high scores (≥26) on the AQ (P =.01). Follow-up binary logistic regression analyses also accounting for the same obstetric and sociodemographic variables found that the offspring of women with pre-pregnancy obesity were at a statistically significantly increased risk of having high scores (≥26) on the AQ (OR: 2.80; 95% CI: 1.06, 7.43). This study provides further evidence that maternal pre-pregnancy obesity is associated with autism-like behaviors in offspring. Lay Summary: The current study explored whether pre-pregnancy weight was related to autistic-like traits among offspring not diagnosed with ASD. We found that pre-pregnancy body mass index in women is associated with the amount of autistic-like traits in their children in early adulthood. Specifically, women who were obese at the time of conception were more likely to have a child who had high levels of autistic-like traits in early adulthood.
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- 2 Finished
1/01/15 → 31/12/19
1/01/11 → 31/12/15