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Is There a Relationship Between Infertility Treatment and Autism?

By admin

April 3rd, 2015 at 7:11 pm


image courtesy njaj/free

April is Autism Awareness Month. As it ends, much of the discussion regarding the potential causes of autism have centered on the debate over a possible vaccine connection.

Understandably, the world is searching for the cause of what some call the epidemic of autism in the United States. Current stats show that one out of 68 children is diagnosed with the disorder which typically manifests itself in various ways, impacting or causing developmental delays, communication and behavioral challenges. Because the symptoms and degree of severity vary so wildly from case to case, autism is a spectrum disorder.

And, although practically eclipsed by the vaccine headlines, every year another question is raised:

Does IVF… or fertility medications… cause autism?

A recent study*sparked some pretty sensational headlines that boldly claimed that IVF doubles the risk of having autism. Reading further into the articles…or even reading the small print caption right below the accompanying photo… you could find facts and quotes that explained and/or contradicted the claim of the headline. But not everyone reads the article beyond the headline. Certainly not someone who is now hysterical with fear. In my opinion, misleading headlines in journalism dealt a sucker punch to IVF.

Consider this article**, entitled “Children conceived via IVF have double the autism rates of others: study”, wherein the caption right below the headline and photo states:

“While researchers didn’t find a direct link between reproductive treatments like IVF and autism, they said higher rates among children born that way might be due to multiple births or complications during pregnancy that can follow such treatments.” (emphasis added)

Notably, if you read further, the risk disappears completely for those who elect IVF with a Single Embryo Transfer, or for those who do not have multiple pregnancies! The article continues:

For moms giving birth to just one baby, there’s no increased risk of the neurodevelopmental disorder, researchers said.”(emphasis added)

This clarification may relieve the fears of many IVF patients… especially in light of the growing popularity and competitive success rates of Single Embryo Transfer programs like the one at Long Island IVF. Even for those who do not elect SET, advances in reproductive technology have led to a significant decrease in the number of embryos most clinics will routinely transfer, and that has also contributed to a dramatic reduction in the incidence of high order multiple pregnancies as well.

Obviously, more research is necessary. And careful dissemination of information and findings as it unfolds is, as well.


Do you think publications have a duty to use headlines that don’t mislead? Does the study in question impact your family-building decision and if so, in what way?



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Long Island “Brew For the Family” Event- June 4, 2015

Would winning a FREE IVF Cycle door prize help you or a loved one build a family?

Join us on Thursday, June 4th, 2015 from 7:30-10PM at the Long Island Brew for the Family event hosted in partnership with the Tinina Q. Cade Foundation.

We have come together to spread the message that infertility can be overcome! Enjoy a night out and forget the stress of infertility as we sample craft beers at one of Long Island’s premier microbreweries, The Great South Bay Brewery. The evening will include a sampling of 6 beers, guided brewery tours with a master brewer, great food, music, and a silent auction.

Each admission ticket will include one entry into the drawing for a FREE IVF CYCLE* door prize. Be sure to invite your family and friends for even more chances to win, as the prize is transferrable.

To purchase tickets and learn more about this event please visit:


Long Island IVF-WINNER: Best in Vitro Fertility Practice 2015

It is with humble yet excited hearts that we announce that Long Island IVF was voted the Best In Vitro Fertility Practice in the Best Of Long Island 2015 contest.

The doctors, nurses, embryologists, and the rest of the Long Island IVF staff are so proud of this honor and so thankful to every one of you who took the time to vote. From the moms juggling LIIVF babies… to the dads coaching LIIVF teens…to the parents sending LIIVF adults off to college or down the aisles… to the LIIVF patients still on their journeys to parenthood who are confident in the care they’re receiving…we thank you all.

We love what we’ve gotten to do every day more than 27 years…build families. If you are having trouble conceiving, please call us. Many of our nurses and staff were also our patients, so we really do understand what you’re going through. And we’d like to help.


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Having an Autistic IVF Baby: A Personal Story

By Tracey Minella

April 2nd, 2012 at 8:49 am


Today is National Autism Awareness Day. 

I have two IVF children. A neuro-typical daughter and an autistic son, who are 14 and 10, respectively. This is an issue close to my heart.  

Just this week, new statistics on the odds of having a child with autism were released. The odds are now estimated at 1 in 88.  It’s been called an epidemic.

 I’ve heard people… desperate for answers… suggest that maybe IVF had something to do with their child’s autism. To date, I’m not aware of any study making a connection.

 I personally feel that autism has a genetic basis and that whether most children develop it or not depends on whether a triggering event or series of events occurs. This position comes from years of meticulous research and biomedical and other interventions.

 There are as many comparisons as there are differences between the conceptions, pregnancies, and toddler year exposures and experiences of my two IVF kids. Both were born prematurely and I was four years older when I had my son. No one will ever know for sure what triggered my son’s autism while my daughter is fine.

 Back when I did IVF, there was no autism fear. It wasn’t even in the news when my son was diagnosed in 2004, much less when I started IVF in 1993. What we worried about in the back of our minds back then was whether the drugs we were taking would cause us to have cancer later in life. Happily, that has not come to pass.

 But even when faced with that cancer concern, I asked myself whether the risk of cancer someday was worth the benefit of conceiving a child. For me, the need to have a child was so strong that I was willing to take the risk of possibly not being around to see my child grow up. People will argue that my position was selfish or crazy. But that’s just me. And we’re all entitled to our feelings.

 Sometimes we get so focused on getting pregnant and having that baby that we don’t pay any attention to other considerations. But we can’t control much of what is meant to be for ourselves or our children. Life happens and often fate unrolls the lives we’re meant to lead. I have no regrets about my decision to build my family through IVF. Life is challenging with an autistic child, but he and his sister are the lights of my life and I could never imagine life without either of them in it.

 Today, the lights of the Empire State Building…and our house… will be lit up blue for Autism Awareness Day. If you know someone who loves someone with Autism, please reach out to them today.

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Have you ever worried about autism, or cancer, or anything else coming from your infertility treatment?

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Do IVF Patients Skip the Amnio?

By Tracey Minella

April 22nd, 2011 at 12:00 am

The hardest decision most IVF patients make is whether to have an amnio to check for chromosomal abnormalities in their fetus. There’s a slight miscarriage risk from the procedure, which involves inserting a rather large needle through the abdomen and into the uterus to draw out some amniotic fluid for testing.

When I got pregnant with my daughter, I had just turned 35. It was my sixth fresh IVF cycle. I’d lost a twin pregnancy on IVF#3. I lost an ovary and tube on that cycle, too. I agonized over what to do about the amnio now.

I worked for my RE and was surrounded daily by doctors and nurses who had all the faith in the world in the safety of amnios. “Don’t worry. The risk of a miscarriage is so slim. It’s only around 1-2%”, they said reassuringly.

I hormonally snapped back. “But you also said no patient, in the entire friggin history of the practice, ever had an ovarian torsion from severe IVF hyperstimulation and its resulting multiple pregnancy…yet I defied those odds, too!” They couldn’t argue with that.

I’m that one person out a thousand.

So, after much debate and soul-searching…and a highly-detailed ultrasound designed to check the fetus for a list of “physical markers” for Down’s syndrome and other so-called abnormalities… I opted out of the amnio. My daughter was fine.

Fast forward four years and one more IVF. Pregnant with my son. Still working for the RE. More pressure to have the amnio now that I was just 39. I caved. Was there a tiny bit less worry/more faith here since I had a live baby at home this time? If so, isn’t that twisted?

Well, it was the nightmare from hell. Clearly the worst amnio ever performed in history. Ever. My landscaper would have done a better job. Dr. Dumbass had to repeat it. As in stab me twice. The eleventy-seven foot needle, in his incapable hands, felt like I’d been impaled on an iron fence post. Tears fell freely. Cramping began. And all I could think was…

I’m that one person out of a thousand.

I was left alone with my tortured thoughts for a weekend of cramping and crying in bed. Why couldn’t I have been the type who could definitively answer the inevitable question: “Well, would you do anything based on the results?” I didn’t know what I’d do, but I knew I wanted to know.

I also remember selfishly thinking I paid my dues to have my girl and we were finally a happy family after so many years of losses and pain. How can I saddle her with a handicapped sibling to care for after we’re gone? Would it be better to have just one healthy child? But as difficult as it was to think that thought, I could not wrap my head around the idea of acting on it.

I worried. If I lose the pregnancy because I chose this procedure, how can I live with that? Why couldn’t I have just trusted that it’d be okay?

What had I done?!

Eventually, the cramps subsided and the miscarriage scare passed. The pregnancy progressed with its gestational diabetes, pre-term labor, bed rest and early delivery. Just like my other pregnancy. A happy ending*. With an asterisk. A footnote.

*My son has autism. The footnote in my life.

Yes, life is challenging, but the bond between my children is beautiful. She nurtures him. He learns from and models her. Every social gain he makes is because of her guidance, love, and patience. I’m embarrassed to have once thought having a disabled child would have unduly burdened my healthy child. It is his condition that has contributed to making her the mature, sensitive young lady she has grown to be. He is not typical; he is so much more. I’d have died for him the instant he took his first breath.

If infertility itself has taught us anything it’s that there are no guarantees in life. Each cycle is a roll of the dice. Pregnant or not pregnant.

Each pregnancy is a roll of the dice, too. Singleton or multiple, autism, a birth defect, stillborn, miscarriage, ectopic, or a healthy baby.

Sadly, disabilities happen before, during, and after birth.

But happily, the reality of living with a disabled child is so much better than I imagined it’d be when I was thinking in abstract terms, before the baby was in my arms. When the baby isn’t there yet, all you have to face is fear of the unknown. Once the baby arrives, you see all its goodness and the disability…if noticeable at all…is put in its proper perspective.

Sometimes you just have to roll the dice. Especially if it’s the only game in town. I hit the jackpot with my children and am a better parent because of them. And I’m no longer that one person in a thousand.

As National Autism Awareness Month comes to its close, all I can think is…

I’m that one person in 110.

* * * * * * * * *

Has your infertility affected your position on having an amnio? How?


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