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Prevalence of autism increases

27th July 2006

21072006_boy_lonely1Q.jpgIn the latest report from England, 116 per 10 000, or more than 1% of children having an autistic spectrum disorder. 

Twenty years ago, most people accepted that childhood autism was a rare developmental disorder having a prevalence of about four or five per 10,000 children, but since then the prevalence has continued to rise.

Researchers looked carefully for autism or the broader autistic spectrum disorders in children aged 9-10 years. The researchers screened all children known to the health authorities who had impaired social skills or language problems, and all those with special educational needs, coming to a consensus that 38.9 per 10 000 were autistic and 77.2 per 10 000 had an autistic spectrum disorder, a total of 116.1 per 10 000.

This is probably an underestimate as researchers would have failed to find any affected children who had fallen beneath the radar of local health and educational services. Of those they found, fewer than two thirds had already been diagnosed locally; those most likely to be missed were children with poorly educated parents.

 

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