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July 3, 2013

In Vitro Fertilization and Risk of Autistic Disorder and Mental Retardation

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, University of California-San Francisco
JAMA. 2013;310(1):42-43. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.7223

The birth of the first infant conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) occurred 35 years ago.1 The early focus of IVF programs was on enhancing success rates and optimizing clinical and laboratory techniques in an effort to improve chances of pregnancy. Currently, more than 40%2 of young couples conceive on a single trial of IVF compared with less than 20% in the 1980s.3 In 2012, the number of infants born worldwide as a result of these technologies was 5 million. These numbers will continue to increase with 350 000 infants born annually as a result of an estimated 1.5 million IVF cycles.4 The percentage of total births resulting from IVF is currently 1.4% (>60 000 infants/y) in the United States5 and 0.5% to 4.4% (>100 000 infants/y) in western Europe.6 Therefore, the success of IVF suggests it is important to shift the focus to the safety of the procedure for children.

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