Thursday, 12 January 2017

On autism risk and immigrant status

"Fifteen studies suggest a higher prevalence rate of ASDs [autism spectrum disorder] among children of immigrants in comparison to native children."

Those fifteen studies formed a large part of the seventeen studies included in the review by Rafal Kawa and colleagues [1] who set out to look at the collected peer-reviewed literature on the topic of the "prevalence and risk for ASD in Europe among immigrants and ethnic minorities." Carried out as part of a European Union (EU) initiative titled 'Enhancing the Scientific Study of Early Autism' the Kawa review was a sort of first step to looking at whether the racial/ethnic disparities noted in autism rates in the United States for example, might also hold true for Europe. Evidently they did.

This is a topic covered before on this blog (see here for example) and so the results come as little surprise. One does have to be slightly cautious about how such data is interpreted, particularly in light of recent European history but outside of any politics there are some intriguing scientific questions posed by such data and some potentially important 'connections' with other independent datasets that could benefit autism research more generally (see here and see here). Given also some emerging research suggesting that autism may not be the only diagnostic label where risk is heightened according to immigrant status (see here), there are some further studies to be undertaken on this topic, in these days of overlapping labels (see here).

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[1] Kawa R. et al. European studies on prevalence and risk of autism spectrum disorders according to immigrant status-a review. Eur J Public Health. 2016 Dec 24. pii: ckw206.

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ResearchBlogging.org Kawa R, Saemundsen E, Lóa Jónsdóttir S, Hellendoorn A, Lemcke S, Canal-Bedia R, García-Primo P, & Moilanen I (2016). European studies on prevalence and risk of autism spectrum disorders according to immigrant status-a review. European journal of public health PMID: 28013245