Mothers of Autistic Children at Higher Risk of Heart Disease?

autistic children

While many parents may joke about the toll their children have on their health, a new study suggests mothers with autistic children may actually be telling the truth.

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco found that mothers with autistic children were more likely to have increased chances of experiencing heart disease. The study has been published in the latest issue of Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

The Study at a Glance

For their study, the researchers studied two groups of women between ages 20 and 50 with children ranging in age from 2 to 16-years old. While both groups had 30 participants, one group consisted of mothers raising children with autism while the other group had children without the condition.

The mothers were interviewed about their levels of stress and their blood was checked for hematopoietic progenitor cells, which are crucial in repairing damaged blood vessels and actually prevent the buildup of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – often referred to as bad cholesterol.

The Findings

Of the mothers with autistic children, 30% had levels of LDL that were equal to or greater than what is considered to be the relatively safe benchmark of 130 mg/dL. They also had lower levels of the protective progenitor cells.

Only 8% of the mothers of children without autism experienced similar levels of LDL.

Mothers who experienced more positive interactions with their family over the course of a week were shown to have more progenitor cells. This finding, say the researchers, suggests that less stress may help our bodies repair themselves.

Lead researcher Dr. Kirstin Aschbacher said “It’s clear that stress can contribute to chronic disease, but fixing stress is not as simple as taking a deep breath or an occasional yoga class. Our study shows that the damaging aspects of stress can happen in families in everyday life.”

How Can Having Autistic Children Lead to Higher Stress?

In explaining the connection between higher stress and parenting children with autism, Dr. Aschbacher said, “Children with autism are more likely to engage in behaviors that can be emotionally stressful for mothers, like becoming unpredictably aggressive, biting or hurting themselves or expressing little affection.”

If Your Child is Living With Autism, Get in Touch With The Fitzgerald Law Firm

Children with autism are not the only ones who suffer negative consequences from the condition. Parents themselves, and mothers in particular, need to pay special attention to their health and the impact that their autistic child is having on it.

If your child has autism and you’re not sure how he or she acquired the condition, get in touch with us here at The Fitzgerald Law Firm.

While no one knows the exact cause of autism, things like a mismanaged labor and delivery can lead to oxygen deprivation – triggering the condition.

For a free consultation, call 800-323-9900.