Scientists carried out a study looking into data on over 2.5 million people born in Sweden from 1982 onwards. Of these 2.5 million, 1.2% were conceived via IVF treatment.
Results of the analysis showed that children born after certain IVF treatments had a higher risk of autism and lower intelligence when compared to natural births. Children conceived by common IVF treatments (where the sperm is directly injected into eggs) were 51% more likely to have IQs below 70 alongside other intellectual impairments later on in life, equating to 93 per 100,000 compared to 62 per 100,000 in natural births.
Scientists have been quick to stress that chance of IVF babies being affected is tiny in real terms.
One treatment in particular has however shown a 360% increased risk, equating to 136 per 100,000. This treatment is a type of ICSI treatment, used to treat male infertility. The method with the 360% increase involves sperm being surgically extracted from the father.
Dr Allan Pacey, Chairman of the British Fertility Society and Fertility Expert at the University of Sheffield has said:
“This is a very important study which defines the risks of IVF children being born with two neurodevelopmental disorders […] The main message of the paper is a positive one, suggesting that any risk of these disorders is very low, or absent, in comparison to children conceived naturally. However it does highlight the importance of preferentially using standard IVF rather than ICSI, and also using ejaculated sperm rather than those recovered surgically from the testicle, in situations where it is possible to do so.”
The study in question was carried out by scientists at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and King’s College London.
If you are dealing with autism or fertility issues – speaking to a counsellor could help you cope with your feelings. For more information, please see our Asperger’s Syndrome page and our Infertility page.
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