Infertility and Use of Fertility Drugs Increases Risk for Autism

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Preliminary results of a study (Nurses Health Study II) suggest that a history of fertility problems and the use of ovulation-inducing drugs (OIDs) are associated with an almost 2-fold increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

The investigators at the Havard School of Public Health compiled data from 3,985 participants (aged 25 to 42 years old), who had their first child between 1993 and 2003, on their history of infertility, use of OIDs (oral or injected), and the incidence of their child having ASD. 

The results indicated that the risk of having a child with ASD was increased (91% increase in risk) in women who have a history of infertility and used OID.  

Table. Risk for ASD by OID Use and Infertility Status (N = 3985)

Variable No. of ASD Cases Adjusted Odds Ratio* P Value
No prior OID or INF 57 1.0  
INF only 16 1.58 .12†
INF and OID 36 1.91 .007†
INF vs no INF 52 1.81 .005
OID vs no OID 38 1.58 .04
Stratified: effect of OID among women with INF 36 1.28 .44

ASD = autism spectrum disorder; INF = infertility; OID = ovulation-inducing drug

*Adjusted for nurses’ age at baseline, age at first birth, parity, race, income, marital status, spouse’s education, pregnancy complications, twin births, prior miscarriages, prior induced abortions, and body mass index.

†Compared with no prior OID or INF. 

Women who have infertility, but would like to conceive can also consider herbal medicine. 

The study, however, was able to find whether autism is also related to women who do not have fertility problems, but take OID. 

Please visit http://healthreason.com/ for more health related articles.

Source: 9th Annual International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR): Abstract 103.002. Presented May 20, 2010.

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