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News In Brief

Infertility drugs the cause of autism?

Lilly Fowler May 20, 2010

There’s been a lot of hoopla about vaccines lately, mostly because some continue to claim they’re somehow connected to the rise of autism.

Well, a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health points to another culprit:infertility drugs. The study found autism was twice as common in women who were treated with infertility drugs. According to the story in [Time](,8599,1990567,00.html?xid=rss-t…(TIME%3A+Top+Stories), “the link persisted even after researchers accounted for the women’s age.”

“Moreover, the association between fertility drugs and autism appeared to strengthen with exposure: the longer women reported being treated for infertility, the higher the chances their child had an autism spectrum disorder.”

The story, however, also points out that more data is needed. Although close to 4,000 women completed questionnaires for the study, researchers did not have access to information such as the child’s birth weight, whether the child was born prematurely, or whether the child was a twin or triplet.

And even if a link between infertility drugs and autism is confirmed, the article points out the risk is still small. For example, those whose average age was 35 when they had their first baby had a 4 percent risk of having a child with autism, compared to a 2 percent risk for those with no drug exposure.

Still, it will be interesting to see how the billion dollar infertility industry responds to this news.

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