With diagnoses of autism rising at staggering rates, the hunt for its causes continues, often with frustratingly inconclusive results. A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics adds yet another potential culprit to an already long list: the obesity of the father.
Researchers tracked more than 90,000 Norwegian children to determine whether maternal prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) or paternal BMI were associated with diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. While the mothers' weight did not have any correlation with whether children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, paternal obesity did — children of obese fathers were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with autism compared with those whose fathers were a normal weight.
If that sounds surprising to you, it was to the researchers as well, who noted in their report: