Study claims some fertility treatments raise the risk of autism in children

For couples who cannot have children, fertility treatments could be heaven-sent. But according to a study by American and Swedish researchers, the said treatments may not be as seamless as they are made out to be, with progesterone hormone therapy, in particular, causing a rise in children who have autism.

The researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital in the U.S. and Karolinska Institute in Sweden conducted a study involving 1,08,548 boys. This focus on boys was because they were more likely than girls to develop autism.

The researchers found that couples who undergo progesterone hormone therapy have 1.5 times higher odds of having a child with autism compared to couples who did not go through fertility treatments.

Progesterone hormone therapy involves supplementation with progesterone, also known as the pregnancy hormone. It is one of two hormones mainly produced in the female body, the other being estrogen. Progesterone prepares the woman for the process of carrying and giving birth to a child.

In progesterone hormone therapy, women are given supplements of this hormone to stimulate their reproductive process. The hormone supplement is administered throughout the pregnancy. Women have several options, including gels, suppositories, and vaginal inserts, among others. (Related: Hormone therapy linked to breast cancer risk.)

While the idea of using a hormone that naturally exists within the female body may seem like an ideal solution to infertility, it may not be safe and practical in the long run. The researchers hypothesize that the effect has something to do with progesterone’s other function – stimulating brain development. They believe that using the hormone leads to a cascade of factors that eventually cause autism in the infant.

Natural ways to improve fertility

Couples who want to conceive a child may not have to turn to potentially risky treatments for aid. Here are natural ways to boost your fertility:

  • Eat lots of antioxidants – Antioxidants fight free radicals that damage the cells. Studies show that eating foods rich in antioxidants, particularly folic acid and zinc, can help improve sperm quality and raise the odds of conception. Antioxidants are common in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
  • Eat the most calories at breakfast – Studies show that consuming the most calories during breakfast helps women mitigate the effect of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), one of the leading causes of infertility in females.
  • Avoid trans fats – Healthy fats are essential to good health. Trans fats are anything but healthy. They cause a wide variety of health problems, including infertility. Trans fats are usually found in hydrogenated oils, margarine, and baked products.
  • Reduce carbs – Studies have shown that women who eat fewer carbs had a lower risk of infertility than those who ate more carbs. In men, a high-carb diet was noted to have caused reductions in important hormones, such as insulin and testosterone, increasing the risk of infertility.
  • Change your protein source – Some studies show that obtaining your protein from meat sources increases your risk of becoming infertile. Switching to plant-based proteins, such as those found in legumes, nuts, and seeds, will improve your chances of conceiving a child.
  • Exercise regularly – Evidence suggests that regular exercise can lower your odds of being infertile. However, moderation is key – too much exercise can cause a reduction in testosterone levels.

Learn how to treat infertility naturally at

Sources include:

comments powered by Disqus