Wednesday, 4 May 2011

1 in 77 children have autism in Utah?

Here we go again. Yet another post on the epidemiology of autism spectrum conditions hot on the heels of the recent adult estimates. This post relates to this paper: Changes in the administrative prevalence of autism spectrum disorders.. published in JADD.

I don't have the full-text paper yet but the abstract does provide some interesting snippets of information. The main findings:
  • Based on administrative records, the prevalence of autism in Utah changed from 2002 to 2008 to the order of a 100% increase in the numbers of cases. Note that this was prevalence not incidence.
  • In 2008, 1 in 77 children aged 8 were identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
  • For many, diagnosis as identified by health records didn't necessarily mean that children held a 'special education classification'. Indeed, most diagnoses were detected from health records.
Utah is pretty unique in that it has been monitoring autism rates for quite a while. Indeed, the last analysis by some of the same author group up until 2002 suggested an autism prevalence in 8-year olds of 1 in 133 in Utah. Further back and the prevalence in the 1980s was suggested to be 1 in 2,500 (although based on DSM-III criteria).

I will perhaps need to look at the contents of this latest paper in more detail before any firm conclusions are drawn.