The result? Children who had mothers that were overweight before and during pregnancy were 67% more likely to develop autism and twice as likely to suffer from another type of cognitive or behavioral delay. That’s compared with kids with moms who were average weight before and while they were pregnant.
So, why does being a heavier mom boost the odds that your child will develop autism? Lead researcher Paula Krakowia (“Cra-KO-we-ah”) believes it’s because overweight moms have a sky-high number of fat cells. Which produce dangerous proteins that damage a baby’s developing brain.
More studies need to be done before this finding is ironclad, since a lot of autistic children have mothers who weren’t heavy during pregnancy, but doctors say that all moms-to-be should take this development as a serious warning, and beware of using pregnancy as an excuse to gain all the weight they want.
Instead, experts say that the healthiest thing you can do for yourself and your baby is to only eat 300 more calories a day than you ate before you were pregnant and limit your weight gain to around 25 pounds, max.