Autism rate higher in vitro fertilization

June 16, 2010 at 12:53 AM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, June 16 (UPI) -- A researcher in Israel reports a strong statistical link between in vitro fertilization and mild to moderate cases of autism.

Dr. Ditza Zachor of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine, who conducted research at the Autism Center at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Israel, found 10.5 percent of 461 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder were conceived using IVF, compared to the 3.5 percent autism rate in the general Israeli population.

"It's too early to make a serious deduction based on that evidence alone," Zachor says in a statement.

Zachor noted the mothers in her study who had IVF tended to be older -- median age of 32.6. Nearly 4 percent of the children with autism were born prematurely and about 5 percent of those had a low birth weight.

"Many infertile couples choose this procedure, and they need to know whether there is a risk of autism," Zachor says.

However, Zachor stresses most women who undergo in vitro fertilization should not be scared away from IVF procedures, because the majority of children born using IVF do not have autism and most children who have autism were not conceived using IVF.

The findings were presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Philadelphia.

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