To draw their conclusions, researchers studied 24,000 children in Sweden with autism born between 1984 and 2007, then compared them to 200,000 other children that are not on the spectrum.
“The risk [of autism] was further increased among mother with both PCOS and obesity, a condition common to PCOS that is related to more severely increased androgens,” Kosidou said in the news release.
Women with higher levels of androgens—sex hormones that develop male characteristics—were more likely to have PCOS, even if they were pregnant.
Researchers also found that exposure to sex hormones early in life may affect a child’s risk to autism. Between 5 and 15 percent of women around a “childbearing age” have PCOS.