The National Institutes of Health has awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant to co-Principal Investigators Peter Bearman, Director of INCITE, and Christine Fountain, Associate Professor of Sociology at Fordham University to support their work on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and Autism. Keely Cheslack Postava, Adjunct Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University, is a Co-Investigator on this project.
The goal of this study is to build and analyze the largest and most detailed dataset in existence—containing more than 11 million children born over two decades—on ART and developmental disabilities including autism, intellectual disability, and cerebral palsy, with the ultimate aims of understanding the relationship between ART and risk of these disorders, and distinguishing the social and biological mechanisms of the association. A unique feature of the dataset is rich geospatial data, enabling researchers to explore neighborhood and contextual factors that shape ART usage and autism diagnoses. In addition, the longitudinal nature of the data will provide a crucial picture of the long-term outcomes of children with autism from diagnosis and into adolescence and beyond. This research will provide families and health care providers with better information on which to make decisions, and help identify potential modifiable risk factors for autism and other developmental disabilities.