Father’s obesity linked to autism in children

A father's unhealthily high body mass index may influence the risk of his child developing autism, a new study suggests.

Bill Branson/National Cancer Institute

A father-to-be’s weight may be a greater factor in his child’s risk of developing autism than the weight of the mother.

A new study looked at more than 92,000 children and found that obesity — defined as a body mass index of 30 or greater — in the father was associated with an increased risk of autism and Asperger syndrome in his child. A mother’s obesity was only weakly associated with risk for the disorders, researchers report April 7 in Pediatrics. The associations should be tested further in genetic and epigenetic studies, the scientists note.

photo of Ashley Yeager

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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