The Endocrine Society

The Endocrine Society

March 19, 2018
1 min read

Greater autism risk found for children of mothers with larger waist size

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

Geum Joon Cho
Geum Joon Cho

CHICAGO — Mothers’ prepregnancy waist circumference, but not BMI, was associated with their children’s risk for autism, according to study findings presented here.

“Children born to mothers with a waist of 80 cm (31.5 inches) or more before pregnancy showed a 65% increase in the risk of autism than those born to a mother with a smaller waist,” presenter Geum Joon Cho, MD, visiting scholar in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and associate professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Korea University College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea, told Endocrine Today.

Cho and colleagues analyzed national health screening data on 36,451 women and their singleton offspring delivered between 2007 and 2008. The mothers had undergone a health screening exam in the 2 years before delivery, and the children were followed through 2015.

Among the children, 265 had received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Researchers used logistic regression models to estimate ORs based on maternal pregnancy and prepregnancy characteristics.

When defined by waist circumference, maternal obesity was associated with increased odds for autism in the child (OR = 1.65, 95% CI: 1.08-2.53). No association was found when obesity was defined by BMI.

“Inflammation may play a key role in the link between obesity and autism,” Cho said when asked to explain the connection. “Both intrauterine inflammation and fetal brain inflammation are implicated in the development of autism.”

Levels of circulating inflammatory cytokines increase with greater amounts of visceral fat, and waist circumference is a better indicator than BMI of visceral fat, Cho said.

“Thus, increased waist circumference may be associated with autism, as observed in this study,” he said. – by Jill Rollet


Cho GJ, et al. MON-160. Presented at: The Endocrine Society Annual Meeting; March 17-20, 2018; Chicago.

Disclosure: Endocrine Today could not confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.