Objectives: To determine whether infertility and use of ovulation-inducing drugs are associated with risk of having a child with an autism spectrum disorder. Methods: We conducted a cohort study of participants from the Nurses Health Study II, a cohort of
Results: The 111 mothers who reported a child with autism spectrum disorder reported both use of ovulation inducing drugs (34.2%) and infertility (46.8%) more commonly than the 3,874 comparison mothers (23.8 % and 32.6% respectively). After adjustment for pregnancy complications, maternal age, and other possible autism risk factors, the odds ratio comparing women reporting infertility and use of ovulation inducing drugs to those who reported neither was 1.91 ( 95% CI 1.20, 3.05; p =0.007). History of infertility was also significantly associated with autism spectrum disorders (OR=1.81, 95% CI 1.20, 2.72, p=0.005), though not when accounting for ovulation-inducing drug use (OR=1.58, 95% CI 0.89, 2.82). The odds ratio for autism spectrum disorder increased with the number of reports of use of ovulation inducing drugs (p for trend = 0.008).
Conclusions: These preliminary results suggest that maternal use of ovulation inducing drugs should be considered as a potential risk factor for autism spectrum disorders in future studies.