IMFAR: Fertility Treatments Linked to Autism Risk

Ovulation-inducing drugs, in-vitro fertilization associated with autism spectrum disorder
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- The use of ovulation-inducing drugs and in-vitro fertilization are associated with autism spectrum disorder in children, according to two studies presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, held May 20 to 22 in Philadelphia.

Kristen Lyall, of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 3,985 women in the Nurses' Health Study II, 111 of whom reported having a child with autism spectrum disorder. Women reporting infertility and use of ovulation-inducing drugs had a higher risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder compared to those who reported neither (odds ratio, 1.91). The odds ratio for autism spectrum disorder went up with the number of reports of use of ovulation-inducing drugs, the authors write.

In the other study, Ditza A. Zachor, M.D., of Tel Aviv University in Israel, and colleagues analyzed data from 564 children who were examined in a tertiary autism center, 461 of whom were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The rate of in-vitro fertilization was higher in these children than in the general Israeli population (10.2 versus 3.5 percent). The prevalence of low birth weight was also higher in the autism spectrum disorder group than the general population. However, these factors weren't associated with autism severity.

"Prevalence rates of in-vitro fertilization and low birth weight were significantly higher in the autism spectrum disorder cohort than in the general population, adding to previous reports on birth risk factors in autism. These birth risk factors are not associated with autism severity and do not suggest a specific clinical subtype, but add to the severity of the child's general functioning," conclude the authors of the second study.

Abstract - Lyall
Abstract - Zachor

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