A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Summer, 2022 | Number 3, Volume 36

IBD in mothers associated with autism in offspring

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in parents (and mothers in particular) may be associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children, according to new research. IBD is an umbrella term for conditions including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. 

Aws Sadik and colleagues conducted four separate studies to investigate possible associations between parental IBD and autism in children. First, the researchers analyzed data on 2.3 million children IBD in mothers associated with autism in offspring and their parents, obtaining the information from medical and administrative databases in Sweden. They found that IBD in mothers was associated with a 32 percent increased chance of autism in their children compared with controls, while IBD in fathers was associated with a 9 percent increased chance. 

The researchers then conducted three separate studies to analyze the effects of genetics on this association. Their findings indicated that the association may be due not to genetic correlations between IBD and autism, but to factors in the in utero environment—for instance, maternal inflammation or impaired nutrient absorption.


“Parental inflammatory bowel disease and autism in children,” Aws Sadik, Christina Dardani, Panagiota Pagoni, Alexandra Havdahl, Evie Stergiakouli, The iPSYCH Autism Spectrum Disorder Working Group, Golam M. Khandaker, Sarah A. Sullivan, Stan Zammit, Hannah J. Jones, George Davey Smith, Christina Dalman, Håkan Karlsson, Renee M. Gardner, and Dheeraj Rai, Nature Medicine, June 2022 (free online). Address: Christina Dardani, [email protected]


“Autism linked to inflammatory bowel disease in parents,” Emily Harris, Spectrum News, June 28, 2022.