Do Fat Moms Cause Autism?

If you were reading the internet or watching the news yesterday you could not miss the media frenzy around a study that, they say, shows that fat moms may have more autistic children.

There was a lot of hedging in these stories, especially considering how the media often treats these studies like fact, including phrases like “the first study to link the two” and “doesn’t prove” and “appears to create concern”. So I found the study.  And read it.

First,  a quick review of correlation vs. causation. Correlation means that we can tell that two things happen at the same time.  Causation means that we can tell that one thing causes the other.

So if every August there are more murders and more ice cream eaten we cannot say that eating ice cream causes murders.  If there is a rash of murders we cannot say that there is an ice cream epidemic, and we cannot conclude that taking ice cream off the shelves will cut the murder rate.  They could both be caused by a third factor (maybe heat makes people cranky and they either eat ice cream or commit murder) or they could be completely unrelated and the correlation could be a coincidence.  (More thorough explanation is here.)

The problems begin at the beginning – the study is called “Maternal Metabolic Conditions and Risk for Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders”  It’s not called “The Effect of Obesity on Austism.”

What they actually studied was whether metabolic conditions during pregnancy are associated with autism spectrum disorder, developmental delays, or impairments in specific domains of development in the offspring.

The “metabolic conditions” including diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.   There is an issue right there since diabetes and blood pressures are conditions with very specific metabolic indicators, but obesity is simply a ratio of weight and height – obese people have extremely varied metabolic health. There is a danger anytime we make body size a diagnosis.

The study included 1004 children and mothers (517 with Autism spectrum disorder,  172 with developmental delays) and 315 controls).  That is a small sample size and it seems to me that having a few kids with developmental delays besides autism further muddies the waters.  All of the kids are from California which means that if California has state laws about neo-natal care that affect autism then all of the kids in the study would have been exposed to them.    Much of the data is self-reported (which is a notoriously poor way to collect data.) For example, women were asked “At any time before you became pregnant with [index child], were you ever told by a doctor that you had [diabetes, high blood pressure]?”  The accuracy of memory in these situations is not great.

Their conclusion was “Maternal MCs may be broadly associated with neurodevelopmental
problems in children. With obesity rising steadily, these results appear to raise serious public health concerns.”

The first part of their conclusion is a little problematic, and depends on the meaning of the word “may”.  If they mean it might be broadly associated then that’s a fair conclusion.  If they mean it can be broadly associated then that’s a stretch considering  the issues above.  The second half is just weird.  They hedge again by saying “appear to raise” instead of just “raise” which is the right thing since they are ignoring the actual metabolic conditions that they studied and making this conclusion about obesity.

One doctor has already pointed out that women with metabolic conditions tend to be given more ultrasounds and there is a correlation between ultrasounds and autism. There are a lot of other variables here.  We know that doctors treat people of size with less respect and give them less time so perhaps that accounts for the difference.

Because they are only looking at correlation, they don’t have to propose an explanation for why a height/weight ratio (which can have extreme variances in amount of adipose tissue vs. muscle, in height and weight, and in metabolic health markers) might be responsible for a fetal health outcome.   And that’s probably for the best because that would be extremely difficult to do.  You would have to make some extremely broad assumptions about all obese women in terms of habits, body composition etc. For example, if you looked strictly at body fat percentage, some women in the control group would likely have the same, or higher, body fat percentage as the obese moms. If you looked at diet, some women in the control group would likely have the same diet as those in the obese group. Same with amount of physical activity etc.  Body size is not indicative of specific behaviors or specific health markers.

I kind of makes me wonder if the researchers threw obesity into the study, and into the conclusions, to take advantage of a media that is ravenous for the opportunity to engage in fat shaming and perpetuate the myth of an “obesity crisis”.

I think that the way the media handled this is a crime.  They don’t have any proof that being fat leads to autism there is no method of weight loss that works, and fat moms of autistic kids have enough to worry about with the way that society handles autism without every news outlet blaming them for their kids autism when they really have no clue what’s true.

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Published in: on April 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm  Comments (65)  

65 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m so glad you wrote about this. I saw this yesterday on the noon news and thought, great, yet another way of trying to make fat moms feel bad about their decision to procreate. And of course they had some random expert spouting off about how important it is for all women to “attain a healthy weight” before trying to conceive, because we all know how simple and realistic a proposition that is. As a fat mom who fought an uphill battle when I needed fertility treatment to conceive my (perfectly healthy, smart and wonderful) son, this really resonated with me.

    • Good for you! I am glad you got your son and sorry you had to fight. Your son is a lucky boy to have you as his mom.

    • They should just come right out and say what they mean: “We want to ban everyone over a size 10 from having children.”

      • They’re working on that. When you have OBs who won’t take any woman who is over 200 lbs for even routine gynogological care, it says right there that there is some massive push to make it next to impossible for a woman of size to have children or at the very least, decent care while pregnant.

      • Or when country-wide “NICE” medical practise prevents doctors from giving any sort of fertility treatment, including Clomid, to anyone with a BMI over 40. Welcome to the UK.

  2. The other thing to keep in mind is that even if, a big if but play along with me, even if there is an actual link between obesity during pregnancy and autism, we need to question how the mother’s care during pregnancy affects the outcome. Obese women are subjected to more interventions, more inductions, more c-sections, put on diets during pregnancy, told they need to not gain or even lose weight during pregnancy, and the babies are often forced out early to prevent a “giant baby of doom.” These interventions should at least be considered before blaming mom for something that might be iatrogenic.

    • EXACTLY!

    • Well, that would make more sense to me. My mom is a functioning anorexic and has been underweight her entire adult life, so I wonder how these scientists would explain her giving birth to my autistic brother. She did lose weight in the first trimester and also gave birth to him by C-section.

  3. Did you perhaps read the MSNBC article on this? I love the blatant factual error halfway through.

    “Typically, a woman is considered obese when she’s about 35 pounds overweight or more, or has a body-mass index of 25, experts say.”

    Wrong. If if matters at all, it should be 30. A BMI of 25 means that someone 5’8” at 164lbs is obese. Which would make the BMI standards even more ridiculous.

    • Back when I was 165 pounds (five foot six and a half) I was told that I was “obese.” These days I would have told the idiot who said that to go take a long walk off a short pier, but I was a lot more vulnerable then. It led to a period of starvation and over-exercising followed by a period of binging. Yeah, thanks a hell of a lot, “expert.”

    • Probably whoever got instructed to write the story got actual BMI measurements in use confused with the suggestion proposed in this article

      It’s down at the bottom, basically they are suggesting that “obese” be lowered to 24 for women and 28 for men. Not just overweight, obese… because I guess creating millions of “obesity epidemic victims” overnight in the 90’s worked so well that why not do it again. And then you can have millions of headlines like “90% of Americans are now obese and gonna cost millions and die!”

      • OMG are you freaking kidding me?! Not you the article. Are these people absolutely freaking INSANE?! I would just LOVE to know who’s putting the money behind this, wanna bet it’s the greedy bariatric surgeons? This, oh my gosh, my head just wants to explode now. When is this going to end?

  4. And the idea that vaccines cause autism sounds crazy? Uh…ok.

  5. There is also evidence that overweight/obese moms have a higher rate of c-section (not necessarily medically indicated) and there is evidence that children born via c-section are at a greater risk of being diagnosed with autism. How does that muddy the waters for ya? And I’m not saying that fat moms need c-sections which could be causing the increased rate of autism in children of fat moms. No. Fat moms are often also blamed for the huge rise in c-section rates. According to some OBGYNs fat women have fat vaginas, and so are less able to vaginally birth their children (I call bullsh*t). To me, this is just another warning sign that fat women are treated differently and being blamed for things that have nothing to do with their fatness (aside from a simple correlation).

    • OR, even if there is a medical reason for an obese mother to have a cesarean (my first was born via cesarean and it had nothing to do with weight but with my baby going into distress), an obese woman trying to have a VBAC will have one heck of a time trying to find a provider who will allow it (first OB I went to after returning to the US wasn’t even going to give me the OPTION and it was ONLY due to my weight but I went to another hospital and DID get my VBAC) and one reason was because the doctors felt that if I were to rupture, it would take an extra five minutes to get to the baby because of all of the fat tissue and the baby could die or end up brain damaged. Oh, and the first OB quoted some out of her ass statistics on how 85% of overweight and obese women fail to have a VBAC. So yes, they definitely do overmanage fat women’s pregnancies.

    • Yes, and some C-sections just can’t be avoided. My first baby was breech, and he just would not turn. They offered me the option of trying an external version to turn him and then inducing or doing a C-section and something in my heart told me that doing the first option was dangerous and boy was I right. Come to find out, I have a bicorneate (heart shaped) uterus and also had a band of fiber in the middle that was tightening down on my son. I had two doctors delivering him by C-section and it took almost five minutes to get him out because of that stupid band. They had to extend my incision up my abdomen into a T-shape and then extend it further before they were finally able to break the band and get him free. It was terrifying. He was blue and had low apgars, but within 24 hours he was fine and his pediatrician said nobody would ever know anything happened to him. He’s smart as a whip and a great kid. Since the first C-section was so invasive, VBAC was out of the question with my daughter, so I account for 2 C-sections right there and it had absolutely NO relation to my :”morbid obesity.” I could have been model thin and still encountered the exact same outcome because my insides are wonky. It always ticks me off how they overlook all of the mitigating factors that contribute to the facts. Just because of my size, I’m sure i would automatically by thrown into the obesity tally, though my obesity was not any part of the reason for my procedure!

      • I was not in any way implying that all women who have c-sections have then unnecessarily without medical indication. I’m not going to judge each woman on whether their c-section was necessary or not. I don’t know you. I don’t have your medical history in front of me. It’s not my place.

        What I was saying is that *overall* obese women have higher rates of c-section than non-obese women, and that this is not necessarily a medically justified higher rate. There is a definite bias against OBGYNs towards obese women. And also, there is evidence that children born via c-section have a higher rate of autism than vaginally birthed children. Not EVERY child born via c-section has a child with autism. We’re talking statistics here.

    • “According to some OBGYNs fat women have fat vaginas”

      What does that even mean??

      • Seriously. The external labia in larger women are plumper because the external labia do contain adipose cells. But the vaginal canal does not. So it’s a ridiculous statement. And these damn doctors wonder why larger people don’t tend to seek medical attention.

      • It means that because a woman is fat, her vagina is also fat and because there’s fat in her vagina, there’s no room for the baby to come out. You can read more on this here:

  6. One of the many problems with this report is the annoying habit people have of equating the word metabolic with fat.

    Also, hypertension is not, and never has been, a metabolic disease. It’s a cardiovascular disease.

    Hypertension can occur as a result of a metabolic disease, so can obesity, but that’s not the same thing as BEING a metabolic disease.

    That’s like saying coughing or sneezing is a virus, because some viruses can cause coughing or sneezing.

    Metabolic disorders are diseases that disrupt the body’s ability to synthesize or utilize energy at the chemical/cellular level.

    Obesity and hypertension do not do that.

  7. Our local news talked about this on the show and on their facebook page. On their facebook, I replied something along the lines of linking women who were obese during pregnancy and gave birth to autistic children (and blaming the obesity for it) makes about as much sense as linking women who ate apples during pregnancy and gave birth to children with autism and blaming the apples. Correlation =/= causation, and hey… even if you go by their own (flawed) study, nearly 50% of autistic children were born to average weight women. So, uh… yeah.

    • My mom was extremely slim, ate wholesome food, and rode her bike almost every day during her pregnancies, and guess what? My brother and I are both on the autism spectrum. So yeah…

  8. Brilliant response/disclaimer!!! Thank you!!!

  9. THANK YOU!!!!!! I LOVE your response to all of that fear mongering! Here’s my short response on the Plus Size Mommy Memoirs FB page to the MSNBC article but you took it so much further. I know the plus size birth community appreciates your support!

    “Correlation does not mean causation. What this article and ones like it aren’t focusing on is the lifestyle of the plus size pregnant woman. There’s a HUGE difference between being overweight, pregnant, and living an unhealthy lifestyle vs. eating healthy, being physically active, and working with a supportive care provider. I’ve always advocated for plus size moms to lead a very healthy lifestyle during pregnancy to reduce risks we statically face.”

  10. Thank you for being right on this. Just last week I heard about a study describing an increase in autism in kids from fathers over the age of 35. First, that study doesn’t get a week of full-on media moral panic blast, but also, it made me wonder if, beyond all the problems you already outlined here, they bothered to controlled for paternal factors at all. The word “paternal” isn’t anywhere in the paper.

    More bad science being reported badly. Bleh.

    • I wish I’d read your reply before I left my own down below!

  11. Thanks so much for the great take-down of the study. I know there are a lot of moms out there with autistic kids who really really really don’t need/want any more “You did this to your kid” stuff thrown at them.

    • You know, this has me wondering, you ever think that the reason they do this, try to find blame with the parents is because they may actually know what it is and it’s chemical and it’s something that needs to be gotten rid of but it brings in lots of money so then instead they try to blame everyone else they possibly can and throw entire groups under the bus to keep people from REALLY finding out what’s causing it?

      Okay, that was massively conspiracy theorist of me but really, some of these ideas are absurd!

      • You know, I always say what if they did a study and ‘discovered’ that ‘obesity’ was caused by genetically modified food? Do you think they’d shut down Monsanto? Hell no. Read the China Study, where after years and years of research, they linked higher meat consumption to all sorts of health risks including cancer. And what do you think the government did when they got the report? Told them they couldn’t publish it, of course. Take away one of the biggest industries in the US? Pft, as if.

        • Agreed. And as Ragen pointed out in one of her posts, there’s LOTS of money in going after obesity. It’s pretty obvious that there are more people out there looking to line there pockets than people who are looking to actually BETTER a person’s health.

  12. “fat moms of autistic kids have enough to worry about without every news outlet blaming them for their kids autism when they really have no clue what’s true.”

    Well, it’s *always* the mom who gets the blame. You’ll never see a study saying, “Fat Dads Linked With Autism In Children”. It’s like dads don’t exist, and that sperm doesn’t contribute half of the kid’s genetic make-up.

    Nope, it’s always the mom’s fault!

    • Of course. That’s why historically,women were usually blamed for the gender of their children when they only produced girls.

      • Reproduction, how does it work?

        But yeah, I know that back then they didn’t get the whole sperm/egg thing.

  13. I’m not a scientist, but it’s long been my theory that teratogens are responsible for the increase in autism. One teratogen in particular comes to mind. It has seen vast rise in use since 1949. It is labeled as a “generally safe” food additive, something that I can’t understand, since so many people have negative reactions to it. I’m talking about monosodium glutamate.
    Of course there has also been a rise in the use of pesticides on our crops, and I’ve no doubt that this could be implicated in the rise of autism as well.
    But hey, let’s blame fat women. After all, there were none of those before the twentieth century, don’t you know?

    • That’s an interesting possibility. If it were true, you’d expect to find more incidence of autism in some countries than others – some Asian nations have an MSG intake per head that can be four or five times what we eat in the West. Any idea if this is the case?


        If you skip back up to the top of the article, they mention that much of the data on this is inadequate, and you’ll note that the most complete data comes from the most industrialized countries, so there really isn’t much evidence to compare.

        Everyone with an internet connection and a mind has a different theory on what causes Autism — personally, I’d rather hold out for causal evidence, not correlative.

  14. I just wanted to pass on some thanks, as I had passed on this link and it got passed on to at least one mom who was deeply wounded when she read the report yesterday. This blame game is so vile, so hurtful and so pointless given the lack of actual meaning. Thank you for so well explaining why it has no meaning.

    • “This blame game is so vile, so hurtful and so pointless given the lack of actual meaning.”

      I don’t know if they’re seriously looking to assign blame as much as they’re trying to look for possible causes so that it can be prevented.

      But that doesn’t stop fat moms from feeling like they’re being blamed, especially fat moms of autistic kids.

      • I can’t speak for intent, although there is no way around making a claim, especially given the lack of causation shown, that such as this does hit as blame. It has hurt many women who have autistic children. There is already a lot of blame laid on mothers, sometimes fathers as noted above but usually the focus is on mothers. What matters to me is that this false claim has devastated women who do take from it that it is their fault. They do not need that.

  15. And what about the women who were not fat before getting pregnant but did get fat then? Where does that factor into this? No, I believe this is a very very flawed “study”. I was livid when I heard it on the news. And with all the junk put in our food, air and water…….they take the ez way out and blame a fat woman. Just more fat bashing as I see it.

  16. Thank you for this. The list of things that “cause” autism is as long and varied as the list of things that “cause” obesity — and as a fat autistic woman I appreciate your takedown of a badly flawed study and even more badly flawed reporting.

  17. Good effen grief! Next thing you know, world hunger will be blamed on fat people, cause we eat too much!

    • Oh, it already is. There are lots of jokers out there who say if we fatties would quit eating everything in sight, there would be enough to go around. And invariably some wit will say the solution is to feed the fat people to the hungry. Classy.

      • I believe the correct spelling in that case would be ‘klassy.’

  18. Ragen, you need an “agree” button on comments! I would have been clicking it repeatedly. I didn’t read the article. I read the headline and just let my forehead hit my desk. The attack on women is relentless lately. I’m just adding this to the list.

    I strongly agree with the commenter who said it seemed they tacked on the word “obesity” just to get some publicity.

    Kudos, by the way!

  19. I work for an early intervention program and we have moms of all shapes and sizes who have children with special needs.The medical community tries so hard to link all physical and mental conditions to fat it’s ridiculous. They’re just grasping at straws here.

  20. From someone on the autism spectrum … thank you.

    It still makes me angry every time I see parents treating autism like it’s The Worst Thing In The World, because it is grossly unfair to the child they have to silently (or not-so-silently) wish for the Normal Child they planned for. But at least my neurological identity can’t be blamed on my mom being fat. (Which, by the way, she wasn’t. Throughout her pregnancy my mom apparently needed to gain weight, all the way up til the 7th month!)

    I wish we as autistics had more people as intelligent and articulate as you speaking for us, Ragen.

    • Hi CC,

      Thank you so much – I’m really glad that you liked the piece!


  21. I think that we should also be questioning the fact that these articles also invoke panic based on the possibility of having a disabled child. Having autism is not a bad thing. As fat acceptance activists who are part of a broader movement for social justice, we should also be challenging ableism. By trying so hard to debunk the fact that obesity causes autism, fat activists are implicitly agreeing that autism is bad. I don’t care if obesity causes autism because I don’t share the ableist view that children with autism are a problem.

  22. There is money to be made in obesity treatment, so yeah, they might have added “obesity” to get funding. Or to get published. Everybody’s throwing that into the pot these days, including the American Psychological Association.

    It may be worth noting here that we used to blame frigid mothers for autism. Psychologists observed lots of moms interacting with their autistic children, and noted that the mothers of normal kids (whatever that means) touched their children more, made more eye contact, and (I think–it’s been 40 years) spoke to them more or differently. So obviously, these kids must have attachment problems because their mothers don’t know how to bond with them, right?

    It apparently never occurred to the researchers that children are actors in relationships from the moment they pop out of the womb, and probably before. Some kids pull for some behaviors, other kids pull for others. Autistic kids, by arching their backs and stiffening their bodies and screaming ’til they turn blue in the face teach their mothers to leave them the heck alone. Cold, distant mothers my great aunt Fanny.

    Interestingly, nobody did any studies observing fathers with autistic kids.


    Maternal age has been linked to autism (and a bunch of other conditions including the maternal conditions listed in the study), and people tend to get heavier as they get older. What a surprise that a link would be found when other more obvious factors weren’t adjusted for. Jeez.

  24. Is it me or are they just fishing for more ways to make fat people to feel ashamed of themselves? Sometimes people make me want to bash my face into a plate-glass window.

  25. Yeah, diabetes & high blood pressure =/= obesity, and your ratio of height/weight doesn’t mean you automatically have diabetes and high blood pressure.
    Were moms who ONLY had diabetes while pregnant addressed? Or were they only talking about women who already had diabetes, high blood pressure, or other problems? My mom had gestational diabetes and she’s only 5’1″ and I’m not sure she’s ever weighed more than 105, maybe a little more while pregnant with my sister and I (twins). Did they discount gestation diabetes in the study? My mom has always had small blood sugar problems since then–when she gets a little shaky she’ll eat a candy bar or drink some juice and then she’s fine.


    • No, GD and preeclampsia were not only included, but they covered most of the subjects studied. Pre-existing hypertension and t2d are not very common in this age group (mean age around 30).

  26. Autism is fucking genetic.

    Autism is fucking genetic.

    Autism is fucking genetic.

    Next verse same as the first 97. (And I’ll type all 97 because I’m autistic and that’s what I do!)


    If they don’t have a control group for mothers with ASDs or first/second degree relatives on the spectrum versus those with completely nonautistic lineage, their “study” is toilet paper. And they’re not going to get that information without evaluating people’s entire families, because of the huge rate of underdiagnosis in girls and women, nonwhites, and people over 35. But every adult I’ve ever known on the spectrum has autistic relatives, even if they were never diagnosed as such.

    Oh, and I looked at their chart, in the full paper. It said 85% of the autistic kids evaluated were MALE. I’m sorry, but 85% of autistic kids are not male, even with the underdiagnosis rates among girls. Guess I’m not going to have to buy toilet paper this month!

  27. *sigh*

    I’m living this right now. I’m pregnant with my second child (I have PCOS, so the doctors were doubtful I could conceive a second time). I’m at about the 3 month mark (I’m not 100% sure, they had to do an ultrasound to measure the baby because I don’t have normal periods like most people). I did have mild gestational diabetes last time but I controlled it with diet and exercise behaviors. Pregnancy seemed to also reverse some of my hormonal disorders, which is why I lost about 40-50 pounds. I checked negative for ketones, and I was eating tons of food (not starving myself) so I came to the conclusion that this must just be what my body does while pregnant. I admit, though, it did freak me out at first.

    My last pregnancy wasn’t diagnosed until I was around 20 weeks in, but even so, I had crazy cravings for foods rich in folic acid (I was a tomato fiend for weeks) and I already had a good diet rich in many whole foods even though I am fat and my doctors assumed that my fatness made me lazy and gluttonous.

    This pregnancy, my (new) OB came right out and told me she didn’t want me gaining more than 10 pounds for the entire pregnancy. I told her of my experience last time and that I would gain or lose however much was healthy for my body as long as all other health markers are in place. She seemed to find this reasonable, even though she appeared a bit taken aback by my assertion of health and lab-based results.

    Of course, because I had gestational diabetes last time, they put me back in the “system” for GD and I had to go see a nutritionist awhile back- I’m really not looking forward to doing all the carb counting and sugar restricting that I had to do last time, but I hate the idea of injecting crap into my body even MORE than restricting my carb intake and balancing it with protein/fat.

    I also ended up talking to my nutritionist about the levels they expect for pregnant women, and it appears that they really artificially set them low (often 50-80 mg/dl lower than what would actually get close to causing harm) and place women on insulin if they don’t maintain really strict levels. And the treatment for GD is not standardized across the board. Many places want you to test 1 hour after starting a meal others want you to test 2 hours after starting a meal…some say you should finish your meal first, others say it’s the beginning of the meal that matters (but what if you’re eating for an hour or more because you’re dining? is what I always wondered). Some places put the cut off at 120, others 130, and still others 140, and all of these are considered “normal standards of care.”

    And the worst part about insulin treatment in GD pregnancies is that many women who take insulin end up falling into hypoglycemia, which never happens in GD otherwise, and can actually be INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS FOR FETUS AND WOMAN. Insulin also releases glucose into fat storage, which basically forces her body to increase fat storage and gain weight, even as her doctor is beating her over the head to lose weight at all costs.

    And finally, I also have to wonder about autism in general- what exactly would we like to do about it? How is it defined in the scope of the study? If the children of fat parents are more likely to be ostracized and have bad social interactions, won’t that translate into more social awkwardness that could easily be self-reported as aspie/autistic in nature? I also really don’t like the language used in studies or articles like these to suggest that fat women and people with autism ought to be “disappeared,” because no one wants to have to deal with them in society or something like that. Basically anyone who doesn’t fit into that normative group of thin, cis, hetero, neurotypical, you name it, science has to work on the idea of making those people go away or simply NOT EXIST anymore.

    Ugh…this squicks me out on so many levels.

    • You’re so right about studies and articles all focusing on “curing” the “abnormal” people–like it’s such a sin to go against the grain? Gimme a break!

      Your comment is interesting. It sounds like you’re self-educated and have things under control and I applaud you for that!

      I also find it annoying how there are tons of different standards for different doctors as to what is “normal” for any type of range–blood sugar, thyroid, you name it. I had this problem when I went to see a few doctors and insisted they run blood tests because I couldn’t lose weight. They all *said* that my blood work was normal and that I should just diet and exercise and come back in three months to see how it goes….right, like I haven’t tried that? They made me feel stupid. I finally found a doc who seems to know better and he said my blood sugar and thyroid were all out of wack. How does that work? One doc says normal, another says abnormal (and acted like it was completely obviously abnormal too, not just borderline). WTH?

      I hope your pregnancy goes smoothly!

    • Yes! Everyone is so focused on the negative of conditions like autism, as if life has no meaning if you’re not “normal”. To have a child who will have struggles in life beyond the norm, or who may not be able to live independently or connect deeply with people seems to be a tragedy, which no one wants to deal with. I’ve heard that 90% (?) of down syndrome babies are aborted now. Parents don’t realize what a joy and blessing these kids can be. Even autism can be an asset sometimes. Ever hear of Temple Grandin? Autism gave her a different way of seeing things, which enabled her to turn the slaughter industry on its ear and made it much more humane. She could not have made the difference she has made without her unique perspective. She turned her “disabilty” into an asset. Anyone who is interested, there was a movie made about her life a couple years back, starring Claire Danes. Life, and what makes it worth living, is not always what we think it is.

      • Omg! Thank you! Did you know how rare it is for people to write this?
        Most people don’t think our lives are worthy it.

  28. Thank you, I’m autistic and I can tell you everyday a new theory for why I exist appears.

  29. Well, now we’ve been blamed for childhood obesity, heart disease, diabetes, migraines, arthritis, and autism. Great. I expect any day now that we’ll be blamed for world hunger and greenhouse gasses. Oh, wait, I heard that story on NPR already. I’m sure I’ve missed something else we’re responsible for–the death of civility, war in the Middle East, potholes? Grrrr

  30. Wow. I loved this entry and your murder/ice cream analogy! I heard you on Plus Model Radio tonight and I thought…this sounds like a very smart woman. 🙂

    I will keep reading and be open minded about your ideas. I’m very interested on your “Health at any Size” movement. Just as an example, I’m sometimes even more flexible than my yoga instructor. I’m 5’4 and 218 pounds. A year ago I decided to start to adapt a healthier lifestyle to take care of certain health issues -not because of my looks-. After a year of making little changes -baby steps-, now I can say I have a healthier high blood pressure, I’ve control my illness and I feel happier, stronger, with more energy and stamina. I would like to see more people feeling this way. Great positive message!

    • Hi Ellie,

      Welcome to the blog and congratulations on finding a path to health that’s working for you. Thanks for your kind words about the radio show – Chenese is a great interviewer and she makes it easy 🙂 Hope to see you around the blog, let me know if there is anything that I can do to support you!


  31. I’m… really glad I missed that news cycle. I have a form of Autism, and I can assure you that all of the studies done on the disorder really are this bad, it’s not just an obesity thing. Vegans try to link milk consumption to Autism. Anti-Gov’t folks try to link vaccines. Organizations with no Autistic members and an oddly hateful outlook on life, like Autism Speaks, whine loudly about how this or that cures it when we don’t even know what causes it, and in all frankness we’re most likely to finally figure that out some time after cancer is completely cured.

    People have also, notably, tried to blame bad parenting (particularly moms, see “refrigerator mothers”), children who “fake it”, eating meat, eating bread (which is a more common allergy than people think, but has no connection with autism), possession by the devil (in the first apparent recorded case), and being the forbidden lovechild of a Vulcan.

    It officially gained “mental disorder” status in 1990. Few people have had any time to develop studies on what causes it that aren’t stupid yet.

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