IVF Babies at Risk for Autism, Mental Retardation?

First there was the breast cancer scare (not yet fully documented, but anecdotally, it's there), then the possibility that male babies born using a method to pierce the egg to allow sperm in may also make them  infertile, and now researchers are saying that babies born through IVF have a slightly higher risk of mental retardation.

Researchers admit it's a small percentage of babies born this way, but it's statistically significant, and applies mainly to multiple births.

According to a story at newswise.com, 1.5% of children born through IVF in Sweden are autistic, and 1.1%, have been diagnosed with mental retardation.

This new study, conducted in Sweden on more than 2.5 million children that compared those conceived through natural means to those through IVF procedures, has found an increased risk of both autism and mental retardation.  The prevalence of this disorder is small, but scientists say it is not seen in the general population of babies conceived naturally.

It turns out that 180 babies out of almost 16,000 births were diagnosed with mental retardation, while 103 babies out of almost 7,000, with autism.

The study looked at two facets of IVF -- whether intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) for male infertility was used and whether embryos were fresh or frozen.   Those conceived through ICSI (or "ick-cy," as those in the know refer to it) were most at risk.

Again, researchers caution that the number is very small but "the results demonstrated an association between autistic disorder and mental retardation and specific IVF procedures with ICSI related to paternal origin of infertility compared with IVF without ICSI,” newswise quotes the authors.


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