When prospective parents have trouble conceiving and decide to seek medical help, they typically experience more than a little anxiety and have a host of questions:
- What are the potential risks to the mother and the baby?
- What kinds of diseases or other problems are associated with assisted reproduction?
- And, is one of those problems autism?
Over the past five years, several studies have focused on infertility treatment, partly because of the coincidental rise in both the diagnosis of autism and the use of assisted reproduction. A recent study – conducted by Sean Ackerman and his team at the University of Vermont College of Medicine – examined a potential link, and concluded that there is none.
2014 Study Abstract
To understand the rate of genetic events in patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who were exposed to assisted reproduction.
Case control study using genetics data.
Twelve collaborating data collection sites across North America as part of the Simons Simplex Collection.
2,760 children with ASD, for whom 1,994 had published copy number variation data and 424 had published gene mutation status available.
Main Outcome Measure(s)
Rates of autism-associated genetic events in children with ASD conceived with assisted reproduction versus those conceived naturally.
No statistically significant differences in copy number variations or autism-associated gene-disrupting events were found when comparing ASD patients exposed to assisted reproduction with those not exposed to assisted reproduction.
This is the first large genetic association to concurrently examine the genotype of individuals with ASD in relation to their exposure to ART versus natural conception, and it adds reassuring evidence to the argument that ART does not increase the risk of ASD.
Sources and More Information:
- Ackerman Study Examines Potential Link Between Assisted Reproduction and Autism,
University of Vermont, News ID 19138, 09-09-2014.
- No increase in autism-associated genetic events in children conceived by assisted reproduction,
Fertility and Sterility, S0015-0282%2814%2900366-5, Volume 102, Issue 2, Pages 388–393, August 2014.