IVF technique linked to possible increased risk of intellectual disability

Expert plead for caution over study linking IVF and other reproductive technologies to an increased risk of intellectual disability

A recent study released by the Telethon Kids Institute in western Australia points to a correlation between intellectual disability and some specific forms of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). Without jumping to conclusions, by default it is critical to understand that correlation does not imply causation. Experts implore caution in interpreting these results; researchers cannot say for certain what may be causing the increased rates of intellectual disability.

Researchers included over 200,000 live births between 1994 and 2002 in the study. A little over one percent of those births were conceived using an assisted reproductive technology. The results indicate a small increase in intellectual disability relating to ART (1 in 48 for ART compared with 1 in 59 for non-ART). However, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) appeared to show a more significant increase in risk for intellectual disability (1 in 32).

Michele Hanson, the lead author, suggests "it is important to note our findings relate to births from 1994 to 2002 and there have been major shifts in ART clinical practice… since that time,"

The study is available further reading.

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