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Studies Link Infertility Treatments to Autism

by Claudia Wallis,  TIME magazine,  May 20, 2010
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A study presented Wednesday at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Philadelphia provides some of strongest evidence to date that there might be a link between autism and fertility treatment. The study, conducted by a team at the Harvard School of Public Health, found that autism was nearly twice as common among the children of women who were treated with the ovulation-inducing drug Clomid and other similar drugs than women who did not suffer from infertility, and the link persisted even after researchers accounted for the women's age.

Moreover, the association between fertility drugs and autism appeared to strengthen with exposure: the longer women reported being treated for infertility, the higher the chances their child had an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

A second paper presented at the conference by an Israeli team found an association between autism risk and in vitro fertilization, which also involves the use of drugs that stimulate ovulation. Taken together, the studies add to a growing body of evidence that a history of infertility and treatment for infertility could play a role in causing autism. However, the papers raise more questions than they answer. Read more.

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