Children Born to Diabetic Mothers May be More Likely to Have Intellectual Disability

18 Jul

A recent study found possible risk factors for autism in maternal conditions during pregnancy (maternal diabetes, hypertension and obesity). The study: Maternal Metabolic Conditions and Risk for Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders is online and a discussion can be found here at the Autism Science Foundation blog.

A study (non-autism) has been recently published indicating that diabetes might be a risk factor for intellectual disability. The risk was lower in the new study (1.10) than the previous, autism, study (1.52 risk for ASD, 2.33 odds ratio for developmental disability). Note that the sample size for diabetes in the autism study was small, resulting in large confidence intervals, so the differences may not be significant.

It is not a direct comparison between the studies, so that limits discussion. But it is interesting to see the subject of maternal diabetes and developmental disability again. It has come up before the autism study and will likely come up again.

Here is the abstract from the recent study:

Intellectual disability (ID) is a major public health condition that usually develops in utero and causes lifelong disability. Despite improvements in pregnancy and delivery care that have resulted in dramatic decreases in infant mortality rates, the incidence of ID has remained constant over the past 20 years. There may still be uncharacterized preventable causes of ID such as Diabetes Mellitus (DM). We used statewide individual level de-identified data for maternal and child pairs obtained by linking Medicaid claims, Department of Education, and Department of Disabilities and Special Needs data from 2000 to 2007 for all mother-child pairs with a minimum follow-up of 3-years post birth or until a diagnosis of ID. To ascertain the adjusted relationship between DM and ID, we fit a logistic regression model taking into account individual level clustering on mothers for multiple pregnancies using the population-averaged Generalized Estimating Equations method. Of the 162,611 eligible maternal and child pairs, 5,667 (3.49 %) of the children were diagnosed with ID between birth and 3-years of age. After adjustment for covariates the independent relationship between DM and ID was significant with odds ratio of 1.10 (1.01-1.12). On sub-analysis, patients with pre-pregnancy DM had the highest effect measure with an estimated odds ratio of 1.32 (0.84, 2.09), although this was not statistically significant. In this large cohort of mothers and children in South Carolina, we found a small but statistically significant increased risk for ID among children born to mothers with DM. Additional information about the association between maternal DM and risk of ID in children may lead to the development of effective preventive interventions on the individual and public health levels.

–by Matt Carey

2 Responses to “Children Born to Diabetic Mothers May be More Likely to Have Intellectual Disability”

  1. Sam Fleischner July 18, 2012 at 17:21 #

    Hi everyone, my name is Sam Fleischner, I’m a director of films and music videos. In November 2009, I read an NY Times article about a 13 year-old boy with Autism who ran away from home, riding the NYC subway for 11 days. The story captivated me and a year later I reached out to meet the family in hopes of learning more about their experience.

    With their help, I spent the next two years developing the screenplay, STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS, the adventure of an outsider kid looking for his place, and trying to survive a system that wasn’t designed for him. I am reaching out to the Autism community for support and collaboration. As a film that will illuminate the multi-faceted nature of Autism in a positive light, I hope to engage individuals and organizations that work to spread awareness and raise funds for research.

    Check out our Vimeo ( and Facebook pages to share with friends, and help support this project! If you have any questions it, send me an email at — thanks guys!

  2. Lauren Ambrose January 28, 2014 at 06:00 #

    Children born to diabetic mothers are also at a risk to develop neonatal hypoglycemia which can cause the baby to become fussy and jittery.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: