JERUSALEM, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Fertility treatments may increase the risk of autism in children, according to a research published by the University of Haifa in northern Israel Sunday.
In recent years, efforts have been made to identify the environmental factors that influence the development of autism. One of the directions that has not been thoroughly tested is the effect of fertility treatments.
Today there is a scientific and medical controversy. Some studies have found that there is no connection between fertility treatments and autism, especially IVF (In vitro fertilisation) treatments. Other studies have linked to individual hormones and autism.
The new study, which also included researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, included 108,548 boys, as boys have a higher risk of developing autism than girls.
In the case of progesterone hormone therapy, it was found that the odds of having a child on the autistic spectrum were 1.5 times higher than those who did not undergo fertility treatments.
Progesterone is an embryonic steroid hormone needed for brain development. There is a hypothesis that it activates a genetic mechanism for the development of autism.
It was found that progesterone delivery before pregnancy may affect critical stages in fetal brain development.
According to government data, there has been an increase in the number of Israelis diagnosed with autism, apparently due to a growing awareness of autism spectrum disorders. The number of autistic people registered in Israel is approximately 16,000.