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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Colorado Researchers Co-author study Linking Autism and Childhood Obesity

A new study including two Colorado School of Public Health researchers is among the first to show that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder​ (ASD) had the highest frequency of rapid weight gain during the first six months of life, which may put them at increased risk for childhood obesity.

The study was led by researchers at University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and co-authored by Dr. Carolyn G. DiGuiseppi, professor of epidemiology and Dr. Susan Johnson, associate professor of community and behavioral health at ColoradoSPH.​

The report also states mothers across all groups with pre-pregnancy overweight or obesity were almost 2.5 times more likely to have a child with overweight or obesity at ages 2-5 than other mothers. The risk for childhood obesity across all groups was also 1.5 times greater for mothers who exceeded the recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy.

“Healthy growth patterns during infancy, in particular, may carry special importance for children at increased risk for an ASD diagnosis, including high-risk populations such as former premature infants, younger siblings of children with ASD, children with genetic disorders that predispose to ASD and others,” said Dr. Tanja Kral, associate professor of nursing in the department of biobehavioral health sciences and lead author of the study.