In The Politics of Autism, I write:
If the science were not confusing enough, its coverage in the mass media has added another layer of murk. News reports hype tentative findings and weak correlations as “breakthroughs” in the quest for autism answers. When the research yields mixed results, the media headlines can be comically inconsistent. Consider how various publications covered a 2013 study on the impact of in vitro fertilization:Now a headline at Xinhua: SOME FERTILITY TREATMENTS CAN CAUSE AUTISM: ISRAELI RESEARCH
[i] John J. Pitney, Jr., “IVF, Autism, and Headlines,” Autism Policy and Politics, July 2, 2013. Online: http://www.autismpolicyblog.com/2013/07/ivf-autism-and-headlines.html; “Autism and IVF: More Contradictory Headlines,” Autism Policy and Politics, July 3, 2013. Online: http://www.autismpolicyblog.com/2013/07/autism-and-ivf-more-contradictory.html
- RARE IN VITRO TECHNIQUE RAISES AUTISM RISK, STUDY SAYS
- IVF PROCEDURES DO NOT BOOST AUTISM RISK
- SOME FORMS OF IVF LINKED TO AUTISM, MENTAL DISABILITY
- IVF, AUTISM NOT LINKED, BUT STUDY FINDS RISK OF INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY[i]
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.Among other things, beware the word cause the headline. As every social scientist knows, correlation is not the same as causation.