Wednesday, 10 April 2019

"Autism prevalence in China is comparable to Western prevalence" But is it really?

I was intrigued by the findings reported by Xiang Sun and colleagues [1] whose paper is the source material for the quote heading this brief post: "Autism prevalence in China is comparable to Western prevalence."

Intrigued because the idea that the prevalence of autism - in school-aged children - hovers around 1 in 100 (1%) in the Western world is still being banded around, even when data is being produced suggesting that rates are actually increasing well beyond the 1% mark in recent times (see here and see here).

Don't get me wrong, I am impressed with the Sun paper and the significant efforts and work that went into their study to look at "autism prevalence (mainstream and special schools) in Jilin City, and mainstream school autism prevalence in Jiamusi and Shenzhen cities" in China. Impressed because of the numbers involved, the 3-stage process undertaken (screening, clinical assessment, research diagnostic assessment) as part of the study and also because the data adds to a growing volume of other studies looking at autism in China (see here and see here for examples) and nearby areas (see here).

I'm not going to bore you with any more of my musings on this paper and issue. Suffice to say that the 1% statistic is old and increasingly out of touch with the current reality of autism in many, many different nations...

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[1] Sun X. et al. Autism prevalence in China is comparable to Western prevalence. Molecular Autism. 2019; 10: 7.

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