Swedish Study Casts Doubt on Rise in Autism Prevalence In the largest study of its kind, Swedish researchers propose that rates of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) probably have not changed in recent years, even though diagnoses of autism cases continue to climb. University of Gothenburg researchers found that about 1 percent of participants in an ongoing study of twins ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   August 01, 2015
Swedish Study Casts Doubt on Rise in Autism Prevalence
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Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Autism Spectrum / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   August 01, 2015
Swedish Study Casts Doubt on Rise in Autism Prevalence
The ASHA Leader, August 2015, Vol. 20, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB6.20082015.14
The ASHA Leader, August 2015, Vol. 20, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB6.20082015.14
In the largest study of its kind, Swedish researchers propose that rates of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) probably have not changed in recent years, even though diagnoses of autism cases continue to climb.
University of Gothenburg researchers found that about 1 percent of participants in an ongoing study of twins met the criteria for ASD, even though the number of officially diagnosed autism cases in the country’s national health registry had climbed steadily over a 10-year period.
Published in the British Medical Journ al, the study is based on surveys of 20,000 Swedish twins and the comprehensive health records for more than a million Swedish children born between 1993 and 2002.
Researchers indicate there is no reason to believe the Swedish experience with autism is much different from that in the U.S. or other nations, and that no evidence suggests that twins have a different rate of autism than the general population.
The national registry in Sweden includes all the official diagnoses for autism spectrum disorder, which more than doubled from 0.23 percent in 1993 to 0.5 percent in 2002. That rate is lower than the 1 percent prevalence found among the twins, but that may be because the national registry uses a conservative definition of the disorder. In another Swedish study last year that looked at all diagnoses for autism among teens living in Stockholm County, the autism diagnosis rate was about 2.5 percent.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the official U.S. autism rate at one in 68 children, or about 1.5 percent, based on an extrapolation from school records and official doctors’ diagnoses in 11 communities. That rate is double the 0.67 percent reported for 2002.
The CDC doesn’t know what is causing this increase, but indicates it may be related to the way children are identified, diagnosed and served in their local communities. Studies like the one in Sweden argue that almost all the increase has been due to greater awareness of autism and an expansion in the number of children who get the diagnosis.
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August 2015
Volume 20, Issue 8