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IVF Connected to a Higher Risk for Autism

There have been a few recent studies about autism, and the latest study has found an association between children conceived via infertility treatments, like in vitro fertilization (IVF), and autism.

The report, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health, followed nearly 6 million children, including 48,865 conceived through assisted reproduction and 32,922 with autism.

Researchers noticed that children were twice as likely to have autism if they were conceived through IVF, especially by women under 35. However, the risk of autism was significantly decreased when only a single embryo was transferred during IVF.

"Knowing that one can largely reduce the risk of autism by restricting the procedure to single-egg transfer is important for women who can then make better informed decisions," said Peter Bearman, a professor of social sciences of Columbia University.

It's important to note that the study did not conclude a direct cause-and-effect link, but an association—so the potential link could still be the result of other factors, including a mom's birth age and multiple births, rather than the infertility procedure itself.

"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," said Dr. Bearman.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She's a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

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Image: In vitro fertilization via Shutterstock