HomeautismAre IVF and Autism Linked?
By ekem, Courtesy: RWJMS IVF Program
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the mixed blessings that come with my brand of SPD is overhearing conversations I’m not a part of. It’s not purposeful eavesdropping, since it’s not something I can help, but it does generate some interesting thoughts.

As I was getting my teeth scraped at the dentist’s office, I overheard a conversation about IVF and a prevalence of problems in babies born of that procedure. The lady either worked with kids with those problems or in a field directly connected to IVF, so she was speaking from personal experience.

That triggered the memory of a headline about higher autism rates in IVF kids. I hadn’t clicked the link, because it looked like the same type of sensationalist stuff that now has people fearing vaccines. That conversation got me curious, though, so to Bing I went.

Right away, I found there was more to the story.

Although the numbers show a marked increase to the already diminutive chances of having a child with autism, the risk is still pretty low, standing at 4% for IVF kids, versus the 2% for non-IVF kids. On the surface, it looks like an open and shut case. However, there are other factors involved that already put a baby at risk for developmental delays and various learning differences.

Most women who pursue are over the age of 35, as that’s the magic year that links a decline in fertility. Coincidentally, that’s also when the risk for autism and other differences also go up. IVF still results in more multiple births, which can result in low birth weights, early delivery and difficulties during labor, all of which may have links to autism.

It’s a much more complicated issue than the headlines make it seem.

There’s also the fact that both autism and IVF are both still under-researched.

Studies have already come out which refute the link speculated by previous studies, like the one talked about here on the Huffington Post. Instead, that study speculates upon the link between IVF and intellectual disability, but it still faces the same problems as the autism link.

These developments have me thinking about the three parent IVF development from back in February. There’s no way enough babies have been born from that advance to determine their likelihood of being born with various neurodiversities yet, but it still makes me wonder – What unexpected outcomes will come of that practice?

Regardless of the final outcome, the risk is still tiny, and if you dedicate yourself to pursuing IVF to build your family, I don’t think there’s any reason to feel guilty about it. There are far worse things in life than to be blessed with a child who has unique needs.

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