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Thursday, May 05, 2011

No autism epidemic

On balance, I think I’m disappointed to find that there doesn’t seem to be an autism epidemic.  The increase in autism seems primarily due to increased classification of people previously thought to be retarded or eccentric as autistic.

Disappointed because if it was increasing, that increase might have a cause – which might therefore lead to either prevention or a cure. Now it looks like it’s perhaps one more design flaw in humans.

Slightly more than half of the 13,171 households contacted agreed to take part in the study. First, they filled out an autism screening questionnaire, which was used to select those who'd undergo a face-to-face clinical assessment called the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule.

Overall, the researchers found 19 participants with autism out of a group of 2,828, corresponding to 9.8 per 1,000 adults, but there were no reliable signs that age had any influence on that rate.

Eighteen per 1,000 men got the diagnosis, compared to only two per 1,000 women. People with autism were more likely to live in government housing and have less education than others.

Brugha said he was confident in the results, but that they should still be confirmed in other studies given the small number of people with autism found in this study.

Ha added that he had been disappointed to discover that none of those who got the diagnosis based on the study's clinical assessment were aware of their condition.

"None of them had been diagnosed (previously) with autism," he said. "I think for me the issue is that people have been ignoring autism in adulthood and only focusing on children."

SOURCE: bit.ly/Ceerv Archives of General Psychiatry, May 2, 2011.


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