Infertility treatments during pregnancy and the risk of autism spectrum disorder in the offspring

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2018 Aug 30:86:175-179. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2018.05.022. Epub 2018 Jun 1.


We aimed to examine the effects of infertility treatments on the risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Data were from a representative national registry on 110,093 male live births in Israel (born: 1999-2008; and ASD: 975, 0.9%). Infertility treatments included In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), and five hormone treatments. Relative risk (RR) was estimated with multivariable logistic models. Results showed that IVF treatment compared with spontaneous conception was not statistically significantly associated with the risk of ASD. Only progesterone hormone treatment was associated with a statistically significant (p < .05) increased risk of ASD (RR = 1.51, 95% CI 1.22, 1.86) compared to the group with no progesterone treatment. In conclusion, progesterone exposure during the critical period of fetal life elevated the risk of ASD, possibly reflecting epigenetic modification.

Keywords: Autism Spectrum disorders; Epidemiology; Hormone; Infertility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Female
  • Fertility Agents / adverse effects
  • Fertility Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Fertilization in Vitro* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Progesterone / adverse effects
  • Progesterone / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Fertility Agents
  • Progesterone