A Comparison of Autism Prevalence Trends in Denmark and Western Australia

Institute of Public Health, Department of Biostatistics, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.06). 02/2011; 41(12):1601-8. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-011-1186-0
Source: PubMed


Prevalence statistics for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) vary widely across geographical boundaries. Some variation can be explained by diagnostic methods, case ascertainment and age at diagnosis. This study compared prevalence statistics for two distinct geographical regions, Denmark and Western Australia, both of which have had population-based registers and consistent classification systems operating over the past decade. Overall ASD prevalence rates were higher in Denmark (68.5 per 10,000 children) compared with Western Australia (51.0 per 10,000 children), while the diagnosis of childhood autism was more prevalent in Western Australia (39.3 per 10,000 children) compared with Denmark (21.8 per 10,000 children). These differences are probably caused by local phenomena affecting case ascertainment but influence from biological or geographical factors may exist.

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    • "The first group has some members born post-1995 (some likely to be exposed to paracetamol at time of circumcision) and the second group born pre-1995 (exposure unlikely). The chart displays the study author, country, year published, range of birth years, ratio of males to females, study population, and the overall and male ASD prevalence [113-163]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are complex neurodevelopmental disorders. Susceptibility is believed to be the interaction of genetic heritability and environmental factors. The synchronous rises in autism/ASD prevalence and paracetamol (acetaminophen) use, as well as biologic plausibility have led to the hypothesis that paracetamol exposure may increase autism/ASD risk. Methods To explore the relationship of antenatal paracetamol exposure to ASD, population weighted average autism prevalence rates and paracetamol usage rates were compared. To explore the relationship of early neonatal paracetamol exposure to autism/ASD, population weighted average male autism prevalence rates for all available countries and U.S. states were compared to male circumcision rates – a procedure for which paracetamol has been widely prescribed since the mid-1990s. Prevalence studies were extracted from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Summary of Autism/ASD Prevalence Studies database. Maternal paracetamol usage and circumcision rates were identified by searches on Pub Med. Results Using all available country-level data (n = 8) for the period 1984 to 2005, prenatal use of paracetamol was correlated with autism/ASD prevalence (r = 0.80). For studies including boys born after 1995, there was a strong correlation between country-level (n = 9) autism/ASD prevalence in males and a country’s circumcision rate (r = 0.98). A very similar pattern was seen among U.S. states and when comparing the 3 main racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. The country-level correlation between autism/ASD prevalence in males and paracetamol was considerably weaker before 1995 when the drug became widely used during circumcision. Conclusions This ecological analysis identified country-level correlations between indicators of prenatal and perinatal paracetamol exposure and autism/ASD. State level correlation was also identified for the indicator of perinatal paracetamol exposure and autism/ASD. Like all ecological analyses, these data cannot provide strong evidence of causality. However, biologic plausibility is provided by a growing body of experimental and clinical evidence linking paracetamol metabolism to pathways shown to be important in autism and related developmental abnormalities. Taken together, these ecological findings and mechanistic evidence suggest the need for formal study of the role of paracetamol in autism.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Environmental Health
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    • "Autism and Asperger's disorder (AD) are neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication, as well as repetitive and stereotyped behaviors and/or unusually intense, narrow interests. Together, they have a combined prevalence of approximately 1 in 150 in school-aged children (Parner et al., 2011). AD is currently distinguished from autism by the absence of clinically significant delays in language and cognitive development (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). "
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    ABSTRACT: Autism and Asperger's disorder (AD) are neurodevelopmental disorders primarily characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication, however motor coordination deficits are increasingly recognized as a prevalent feature of these conditions. Although it has been proposed that children with autism and AD may have difficulty utilizing visual feedback during motor learning tasks, this has not been directly examined. Significantly, changes within the cerebellum, which is implicated in motor learning, are known to be more pronounced in autism compared to AD. We used the classic double-step saccade adaptation paradigm, known to depend on cerebellar integrity, to investigate differences in motor learning and the use of visual feedback in children aged 9-14 years with high-functioning autism (HFA; IQ>80; n=10) and AD (n=13). Performance was compared to age and IQ matched typically developing children (n=12). Both HFA and AD groups successfully adapted the gain of their saccades in response to perceived visual error, however the time course for adaptation was prolonged in the HFA group. While a shift in saccade dynamics typically occurs during adaptation, we revealed aberrant changes in both HFA and AD groups. This study contributes to a growing body of evidence centrally implicating the cerebellum in ocular motor dysfunction in autism. Specifically, these findings collectively imply functional impairment of the cerebellar network and its inflow and outflow tracts that underpin saccade adaptation, with greater disturbance in HFA compared to AD.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Neuroscience
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    • "Recent Scandinavian reports are inconsistent, with ASD prevalence ranging from 0.13 to 1.2% [7]. Furthermore, Scandinavian studies have frequently ascertained ASD cases via health care registries [8], [9], [10], [11]. This approach may underestimate the prevalence of ASD, since affected children require social and educational interventions more often than health care. "
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    ABSTRACT: Reports of rising prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), along with their profound personal and societal burden, emphasize the need of methodologically sound studies to explore their causes and consequences. We here present the design of a large intergenerational resource for ASD research, along with population-based prevalence estimates of ASD and their diagnostic validity. The Stockholm Youth Cohort is a record-linkage study comprising all individuals aged 0-17 years, ever resident in Stockholm County in 2001-2007 (N = 589,114). ASD cases (N = 5,100) were identified using a multisource approach, involving registers covering all pathways to ASD diagnosis and care, and categorized according to co-morbid intellectual disability. Prospectively recorded information on potential determinants and consequences of ASD were retrieved from national and regional health and administrative registers. Case ascertainment was validated through case-note review, and cross validation with co-existing cases in a national twin study. The 2007 year prevalence of ASD in all children and young people was 11.5 per 1,000 (95% confidence interval 11.2-11.8), with a co-morbid intellectual disability recorded in 42.6% (41.0-44.2) of cases. We found 96.0% (92.0-98.4) of reviewed case-notes being consistent with a diagnosis of ASD, and confirmed ASD in 85.2% (66.2-95.8) of affected twins. Findings from this contemporary study accords with recently reported prevalence estimates from Western countries at around 1%, based on valid case ascertainment. The Stockholm Youth Cohort, in light of the availability of extensive information from Sweden's registers, constitutes an important resource for ASD research. On-going work, including collection of biological samples, will enrich the study further.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · PLoS ONE
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