Women with Type 2 diabetes, or those who are obese during pregnancy, risk having a child with autism or other developmental disorders, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of California Davis studied mothers and their children over a period of seven years and found that high glucose levels during pregnancy could affect brain development in the foetus.  

In mothers with Type 2 diabetes during pregnancy, the researchers found that 9.3 per cent of their children had autism, while more than 20 per cent of obese mothers had children with autism or some form of developmental delay.

Paula Krakowiak, from the MIND Institute at the University of California Davis, said: "Our finding that these maternal conditions may be linked with neurodevelopmental problems in children raises concerns and therefore may have serious public health implications."

Diabetes UK told the BBC that more research was needed as, at present, the findings just show a relationship between diabetes and developmental delay, rather than a cause.