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Study finds that some of the IVF treatments increase the risk of autism

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Study finds that some of the IVF treatments increase the risk of autism

Couple infertility, the inability to conceive a baby, has greatly increased in recent decades, as well as the number of vitro fertilization treatments. Although IVF is the only solution for some couples to have a child, it yet has some risks. Researchers have now found that IVF treatments for the most severe forms of male infertility are associated with a higher risk of autism and intellectual disability in children. The risks of modern treatment with IVF are presented in the largest survey of IVF carried out by researchers at King’s College London (UK), in collaboration with scientists at Karolinska Institutet (Sweden) and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York ( USA), and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers investigated more than 2.5 million birth records (between 1982 and 2007) and followed children until 2009 to see if they have been diagnosed with autism or intellectual disability (defined as having IQ Below 70 years). It was found that 30,959, or 1.2%, were conceived using IVF, and, of these, 103 were diagnosed with autism (out of 6959), and 180 were diagnosed with intellectual disability (out of 15 , 830 children). The researchers also compared with single births and multiple births because it is  known that the latter is a risk factor for neurodevelopmental disorders.

IVF

IVF

Co-author of the study from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Sven Sandin said that treatments for infertility are quite varied and complex. He explained that when they looked at IVF treatments combined, there was no difference noted between normal births and IVF except a slightly increased risk for intellectual disability, but when looked at IVF following ICSI, the risk of autism and intellectual disability in children was greatly increased. ICSI (intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) is an in vitro fertilization procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into the egg and is a technique that is used in male infertility.

Regarding the risk of intellectual disability, it seems that IVF is associated with a slightly increased risk of intellectual disability in children compared with normal births: from 39.8 to 46.3 per 100,000 person years, so a 18% higher risk. To determine the risk of autism and intellectual disability in children conceived by IVF treatments, the researchers investigated whether there were used fresh or frozen embryos, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or whether sperm was ejaculated or surgically extracted. It was found that the risk of autism and intellectual disability in children is significantly increased after ICSI IVF treatments: 51% from 62 to 93 per 100,000. “Our study shows that treatments developed to manage male infertility are associated with an increased risk for developmental disorders in the offspring”, said Dr Avi Reichenberg, who led the study from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

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