The study in the journal JAMA Paediatrics, a journal of the American Medical Association, also found that the more severe the pre-eclampsia, the higher the likelihood of autism.
The research involved more than 1,000 children aged two to three in northern California. All of their mothers had confirmed diagnoses of pre-eclampsia, and scientists compared data about those developing normally to those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental delays.
“We found significant associations between pre-eclampsia and ASD that increased with severity,” said senior author Cheryl Walker, assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of California, Davis.
“We also observed a significant association between severe pre-eclampsia and developmental delay.”