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Preeclampsia raises autism risk

Date Published: 
December 8, 2014

Having preeclampsia, a condition involving high blood pressure during pregnancy, raises the risk of having a child who will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a study by researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute.

Preeclampsia is a potentially serious complication of pregnancy that can lead to ecclampsia, a life-threatening condition.

“We found significant associations between preeclampsia and ASD that increased with severity. We also observed a significant association between severe preeclampsia and developmental delay,” researcher Cheryl Walker of the UC Davis MIND Institute said in a press release.1

The study involved roughly 500 children with autism, 200 children with developmental delay, and 350 children who were developing typically, all of whom were born to mothers who were diagnosed with preeclampsia during pregnancy.

Children with autism were twice as likely as typically developing children to have been born to mothers who had preeclampsia while pregnant with them, according to the study published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics.2