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Truths About African-Americans, Diet and the Autism Link

1.6 times more likely to have an autistic child

 A few weeks ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that autism rates among African-American boys have gone up 91 percent from 2001-2008. Unfortunately, it's unknown why autism is on the rise and what causes it.
A recent report has found a possible link between a mother-to-be's diet and autism in children. According to the Los Angeles Times, researchers from University of California-Davis looked at more than 1,000 children ages 2 to 5, and 517 children were autistic, 172 had developmental delays and 315 had shown regular development. Researchers also looked at the mother’s health, which included Body Mass IndexType 2 diabeteshigh blood pressure and gestational diabetes (diabetes that women develop in pregnancy).
Here are a few of the results: 
  • Women who are obese and/or have diabetes or high blood pressure during pregnancy may be about 60 percent more likely to have babies with autism.
  • Women who were obese were 1.67 times more likely to have an autistic child compared to normal weight mothers.
  • Women who had diabetes or high blood pressure were 1.6 times more likely to have an autistic child.
  • Women who had diabetes or high blood pressure were 2.35 times more likely to have a child with developmental disorders. This means their children are behind in social skills, visual and motor skills.
  • Thirty-four percent of women in their childbearing age are obese and 8.7 are diabetic. 
Given the disproportionate obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure rates among Black women, these findings could be especially relevant. And while researchers emphasize that pregnant mothers should be mindful of what they eat during pregnancy, they are clear that more studies need to done to confirm whether this association is actually concrete.
It is important to remember that autism is our problem, too, for several reasons:
  • Black children are more likely to be diagnosed later than white children.
  • African-American children and other children of color were diagnosed with autism early on, and their symptoms were more severe than their white counterparts.
  • Children of color suffering from autism were also significantly further behind in development of language and motor skills compared to white students with autism.
  • African-American children are more likely to be misdiagnosed when seeking autism testing and many misdiagnosed and under diagnosed autistic children end up in the criminal justice system every year.


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