Prevalence of autism in children born to Somali parents living in Sweden: A brief report

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Järva BUP, Stockholm, Sweden.
Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology (Impact Factor: 3.51). 09/2008; 50(8):598-601. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2008.03036.x
Source: PubMed


In a geographical area of Stockholm, with a relatively large Somali immigrant population, parents as well as teachers in special schools and staff at habilitation centres have raised concerns over whether children with a Somali background are over-represented in the total group of children with autism. The aim of the study was, therefore, to investigate the prevalence of autism in children with parents from Somalia, living in Stockholm county, and to compare the prevalence in children of Somali background with that in the non-Somali group. We reviewed the records of 17 children (13 males, four females), born between 1988 and 1998 (age range 7-17y) and with a Somali background, who had a diagnosis of autistic disorder or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDDNOS) and were registered at either of the two autism habilitation centres for school-aged children. The prevalence of autistic disorder or PDDNOS was found to be three to four times higher than in the non-Somali group (0.7% vs 0.19%). All children also had learning disability.* Our findings warrant further investigations of possible aetiological factors behind the increased prevalence of autistic disorders in children of Somali origin found in this area in Sweden.

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Available from: Martina Barnevik-Olsson, Aug 12, 2014
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    • "+veassoc in Somalis[77] & Africans [22] US -veassoc immigrant Hispanic vs non-immigrant Hispanics [78] +veassoc Mexican immigrants in California [52] Asian +veassoc in SE & NE Asians [17] [57]+veassoc in East Asians[76] "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Few common traits separate the mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder (autism) and intellectual disability (ID) from mothers in the general population. Objectives: * To review research on the pre-existing characteristics which differentiate mothers of children with autism and/or ID of unknown cause from each other and from mothers of children without these disabilities * To provide a source for research into the determinants of autism and/or ID, including the role of genetic and modifiable risk factors. Methods: The papers considered for this review resulted from a search of the Medline, Web of Knowledge, Scopus and Google scholar databases. Combinations of the search terms associated with autism and ID, the hypothesised aetiologies of autism and ID and terms associated with traits of mothers of children with autism and/or ID were used. Examples from each of the three groups are ‘autis*, pervasive development disorder* and intellectual disability’, immigra*, migra*, ethnic*, immun*’ and ‘traits, characteristics, mothers, children’. A paper was included in the review if: * It was published in a peer-reviewed journal between 1990 and 2012 inclusive; * It was a full text article in English; * It described new research; * It compared a characteristic of parents or mothers of children with ASD and/or ID with parents or mothers of children without disability or with a population norm; * It assessed characteristics that were pre-existing and not likely to be a result of caring for a child with ASD and/or ID; and * It used methods of ascertainment and measurement of the characteristic(s) of interest that were assessed as unlikely to lead to bias. Results: Overall, autism was correlated positively with socio-economic status (SES), education and age. By contrast, ID had a negative correlation with each of these variables. A reversal was also apparent with parity where lower parity was associated with the autism group and higher with the ID group. More complex associations were found with immigrant status and ethnicity. With the former, excluding Californian population studies, the children of immigrant mothers consistently were associated with increased rates of autism (particularly autism with ID) and lower rates of Mild or moderate ID (mild ID). A reverse scenario was found in California with a higher proportion of mild ID and a lower proportion of autism in the children of immigrant mothers. With ethnicity and with the exception of Asian mothers, there are lower rates of autism and increased rates of ID in the mothers of ethnic minority groups. Asian mothers exhibited an opposite trend. Further, compared to the ID group, many more traits were associated with the mothers of children with autism in the three areas related to immunology, mental health, pregnancy/childbirth and behavioural traits. Possible explanations for these findings are discussed. Conclusions: Further research in these areas may yield more understanding of the genetic and aetiological aspects of autism and ID. In turn, primary and secondary prevention strategies may be refined and/or developed.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · May 2014
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    • "Like Gillberg et al (1995) and Gillberg & Gillberg (1996) studies, Barnevick-Olson et al (2008) study was conducted outside African continent and also in Sweden. Barnevick-Olsson et al (2008) documented significantly higher prevalence of autism spectrum disorders among children of Somali parents living in Sweden compared to non-Somali group. Children of Somali parents living in Sweden were found to have a prevalence of 0.7% autism spectrum disorders compared with approximately 0.2% in non-Somali group. "

    Full-text · Chapter · Sep 2011
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    • "Further, data concerning immigrant status and associated language factors are usually omitted in ASD research, which often precludes a direct comparison of prevalence rates across ethnicity. In representative international studies of prevalence conducted since 2006 (Table 1), only in the US and Sweden [23] is ethnicity considered, and the majority of reports in the literature focus on the US One trend that tends to stand out is the higher rate of ASD in White Americans relative to ethnic minority groups [6, 24, 25], and lower rates in individuals of Hispanic descent [24, 26, 27]. It is often assumed that such a discrepancy reflects in part the role of socioeconomic variables. "
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    ABSTRACT: The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is generally somewhat lower in countries outside of North America and Europe. While there are culture-specific patterns of social cognitive processing, the influence of such patterns upon ASD prevalence has yet to be fully explored. A comprehensive literature search for original articles reporting ASD prevalence was undertaken. Data across studies were compared with a particular focus on variables of geographic residence and ethnicity. ASD prevalence varies across countries in a manner that appears to suggest that the greatest influence is due to methodological variables. The nature of a potential influence of culture-specific patterns of cognitive processing upon prevalence remains unknown. The available little data concerning the association between ethnicity and prevalence are limited to studies within the United States (US) showing differences in children of Hispanic descent relative to Whites, a finding for which a definitive explanation is lacking. Available evidence suggests that methodological factors are largely responsible for differences in ASD prevalence across studies. The much discussed increase in prevalence in ASD has been observed worldwide, suggesting that the refinement of diagnostic methodology and/or broadening diagnostic concept is not limited to Western countries. Within individual countries, only in the US has the influence of ethnicity upon ASD prevalence been examined in depth. In the US, children of Hispanic descent have the lowest prevalence of ASD, while Whites tend to have the highest prevalence of ASD. Hypothesized etiological factors for such prevalence differences include methodological factors, socioeconomic variables, and bias.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2011 · Social Psychiatry
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