Maternal Hormonal Imbalance May Up Autism Odds in Offspring

HealthDay News — Children of mothers with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may have an increased risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), according to research published online in Molecular Psychiatry.

The investigators identified 23,748 children with ASD born in Sweden between 1984 and 2007. The researchers then compared them to 208,796 controls.

The researchers found that maternal PCOS increased the odds of ASD in offspring by 59%, after adjustment for confounders (odds ratio, 1.59). The odds of ASD in offspring were further increased among mothers with both PCOS and obesity (odds ratio, 2.13). The association between maternal PCOS and ASD did not differ between sexes.

“It is too early to make specific recommendations to clinicians in terms of care for pregnant women with PCOS, though increased awareness of this relationship might facilitate earlier detection of ASD in children whose mothers have been diagnosed with PCOS,” study author Renee Gardner, PhD, of the department of public health sciences at the Karolinska Institute, said in an institute news release.


Gardner RM, et al. Maternal polycystic ovary syndrome and the risk of autism spectrum disorders in the offspring: a population-based nationwide study in Sweden. Molecular Psychiatry. 2015; doi: 10.1038/mp.2015.183.