Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pregnant? Don't eat for two! Autism is linked to obesity in pregnancy

You know how everyone tells you to eat and eat and eat when you're pregnant? Don't do it. My OBG, Dr. Rebecca Singson, actually put me on a diet when I was pregnant both times. She told me, "I want you to gain between 25-30 lbs only. It gets dangerous if you go beyond that." I gained 33 lbs for each pregnancy (Oops!). She said big pregnancies puts women at risk. You get high blood pressure, which can endanger your life and the baby's life. You get diabetes. You'll have a hard time delivering vaginally. You get fat.

But here's another alarming reason why you should stop shoveling food into your pregnant body: Your child may suffer autism. Research, and this was research reported last year, has shown that there is a link between autism and being fat before and while pregnant.

Here's screencaps from the Wall Street Journal article:

Autism now affects 1 in 50 kids. That's alarming. I know 6 kids with autism. Everyone says autism is an epidemic. But it's not contagious. So why are more and more kids getting diagnosed with this condition? Well, I believe it's because we're a generation that eats a lot. That's just what I believe. Science hasn't pinpointed the exact factors that cause the condition, but if research has found that being fat before you got pregnant and while you were pregnant raises the risk for autism to a whopping 60%, then, mommies, watch your weight! That's 60%! That's a huge risk!

Of course, there is still no single reason why our kids have autism so, moms, never ever think it's your fault. There's genetics, there are environmental triggers. Studies have shown that autism happens more in kids with older moms, or moms who lived near a highway, or moms who didn't take prenatal vitamins, or if the gap between the kids was less than a year. Guess that means we should all clean up the environment, plan our families, and have kids in our 20s. Oh dear.

I guess I shouldn't get pregnant anymore. I may have had healthy pregnancies, with my weight controlled, but I'm 36, I live along EDSA, my Papa has diabetes and there's autism in the family, too. Genetics, check. Environmental triggers, check. Getting pregnant is not so good an idea anymore for me!

But if you're a woman wanting to be a mom or you're pregnant, be vigilant and watch your weight! Now more than ever, we must have healthy pregnancies—eat healthy, eat moderately, take prenatal vitamins, exercise. Again and again, I can't stress it enough, watch your weight!

April is Autism Awareness Month. Read up on the condition. Learn how you can lower your unborn child's risk, how to check your child for early signs of autism (early diagnosis and intervention can make a huge difference!), how to get help and treatment, and how to treat children with autism and their parents (with kindness and compassion, of course!).


  1. my son has been diagnosed with mild autism when he was 2. i was thinking about the cause, this may be one of the reasons because when i was pregnant, i tend to crave for fast food and my ob had to put me on diet thrice. i wish i just did what my mom told me, eat healthy, for yourself and most of all, for your baby.

    1. Same here. With Vito, I ate out all the time because I couldn't stand the smell of cooking food. Wala naman akong family members who cooked good food for me. That's why my OBG put me on a diet because I was gaining weight fast, plus my family history and age =(

      You didn't know naman so please don't blame yourself!

  2. Hello Frances ! I would like to thank you for this thought provoking post and for stressing that "this was research reported last year. " I am a mom who has two kids who have autism and who are 4 years apart in age gap. We live originally from the province, far from the highway, was not, never obese during my pregnancy years (I have seven kids ) and was 36 years old when I gave birth to my youngest son. With so many studies and research being done on autism, sometimes I really do not know what to believe anymore.Though this only shows the continuing search , hopefully for a "cure" for the next years to come oftentimes I am more grateful for the coping mechanisms and tips on how to handle the disorder plus the increasing awareness and acceptance that people with autism should have their own piece of sky on this planet.

    Blessings to you, your family and for sharing your gift for writing.

    1. It is awful how we still don't know what causes autism exactly! Pregnancy should be a time of celebration and anticipation. Now, it's just stress and worry!

  3. hi frances,

    in my case, it's different. my OBG said i had a healthy pregnancy. i never had a trip to any fast food chain for 9 mos. i even breast fed. but still, when my son turned 2.5, he was diagnosed with mild autism.

    autism now affects 1 in 50 because of awareness. in the past, a child on the spectrum was always thought to be a problem child or just ignored. fortunately, others outgrow with it.

    therefore, i think it's in genetic disorder. it's like dyslexia, tay sachs or down sydrome.

    1. You're right. Awareness results to more diagnosis. But to be very honest, feeling ko minsan over-diagnosed na nga. That's just my feeling, ha. When I read kasi the signs of autism, I think, "That sounds like me. That sounds like Vince. That sounds like my friends!" But we're all writers so our odd behavior and terrible mood swings are dismissed as idiosyncrasies. But when I read nga the signs of autism, I suspect my husband and I have it, but I don't think we do!

      I'm not trivializing autism. I just... I dunno. Sometimes I think we label things we can't understand or refuse to accept as "normal." Do you know what I mean? The spectrum of autism is so big! What it the child just marches to the beat of his own drum? Is that so wrong? =(

  4. that's exactly how I felt the first time i heard from a developmental pediatrician that my son has features of mild autism. twas' heart breaking because i know a few on the spectrum and how they struggle everyday to make their lives better. my husband couldn't believe it because you wouldn't really notice it unless you're an expert. unlike other kids on the spectrum, my son has eye contact, very affectionate, interacts and physically healthy. but the mom in me, knew it. i know that there is a problem.

    my husband and i didn't waste our time.i really thank God that i have a very supportive partner in life. my son started his early intervention right away, just this january. we enrolled him in a pre-school that offers specialized one-on-one program for autism. my son loves going to school and his social, language and academic skills was improved. he's now able to express more of himself.

    there some stories about autism other parents doesn't want to tell especially that of emotional tensions. Most of the kids on the spectrum are non-verbal and they could hardly express themselves. It may seem difficult to watch a special child but it is so easy and endearing to love one.

    to end, i'd like to share this clip i found in you tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeWks6cgJ-k

    may God bless you always.


    1. Yes! It is very easy to love them! In our family, we have three kids with autism and they are too cute! My husband and I don't "mind" how they are because we've also always been odd ourselves. It wasn't easy growing up different but it helped we are writers. We preferred keeping to ourselves. That's not to say we have autism (well, who knows?). I'm just saying that people are all different and it's possible to be happy and successful even if you don't fit the mold of normal.

      For us, actually, we find people with autism normal and normal people strange! =)

      God bless you and your family, too! Your son sounds wonderful =)


This is all pretty new to me so please feel free to share your mommy wisdom!