Autism risk doubled in IVF children, study suggests

The risk of a child having autism, or otherwise being diagnosed with a disorder on the autistic spectrum, is doubled when conceived through an assisted reproduction technique such as IVF.

That’s according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University in New York City.

To be clear, this is only an association, and could also be explained by multiple births and other risks. This is further suggested by the observation that there was no significant increased risk for single-birth children.

The study was carried out on nearly six million children born in California between the years 1997-2007. It included nearly 50,000 infants conceived through IVF and over 30,000 with autism.

When ruling out other factors such as a mother’s educational level, and multiple births, the increased risk was seen for mothers under the age of 35.

“The risk of autism appears to be largely modifiable by restricting IVF to single-embryo transfer,” said lead researcher Peter Bearman.

“There is an association between IVF and autism, but when we control for the characteristics of women who are more likely to use IVF, for example, age and social status, this association is lessened significantly,” he continued.

(Via CBS News)