The epidemiology of autism

A review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

617 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background. There is some uncertainty about the rate and correlates of autism. Method. Twenty-three epidemiological surveys of autism published in the English language between 1966 and 1998 were reviewed. Results. Over 4 million subjects were surveyed; 1533 subjects with autism were identified. The methodological characteristics of each study are summarized, including case definition, case-finding procedures, participation rates and precision achieved. Across surveys, the median prevalence estimate was 5.2/10,000. Half the surveys had 95% confidence intervals consistent with population estimates of 5.4-5.5/10,000. Prevalence rates significantly increased with publication year, reflecting changes in case definition and improved recognition; the median rate was 7.2/10,000 for 11 surveys conducted since 1989. The average male/female ratio was 3.8:1, varying according to the absence or presence of mental retardation. Intellectual functioning within the normal range was reported in about 20% of subjects. On average, medical conditions of potential causal significance were found in 6% of subjects with autism, with tuberous sclerosis having a consistently strong association with autism. Social class and immigrant status did not appear to be associated with autism. There was no evidence for a secular increase in the incidence of autism. In eight surveys, rates for other forms of pervasive developmental disorders were two to three times higher than the rate for autism. Conclusion. Based on recent surveys, a minimum estimate of 18.7/10,000 for all forms of pervasive developmental disorders was derived, which outlines the needs in special services for a large group of children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)769-786
Number of pages18
JournalPsychological Medicine
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Autistic Disorder
Epidemiology
Tuberous Sclerosis
Social Class
Intellectual Disability
Uncertainty
Publications
Surveys and Questionnaires
Reference Values
Language
Confidence Intervals
Incidence
Population

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology

Cite this

The epidemiology of autism : A review. / Fombonne, Eric.

In: Psychological Medicine, Vol. 29, No. 4, 1999, p. 769-786.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{86418c476a85431aaefe613ce5ab2102,
title = "The epidemiology of autism: A review",
abstract = "Background. There is some uncertainty about the rate and correlates of autism. Method. Twenty-three epidemiological surveys of autism published in the English language between 1966 and 1998 were reviewed. Results. Over 4 million subjects were surveyed; 1533 subjects with autism were identified. The methodological characteristics of each study are summarized, including case definition, case-finding procedures, participation rates and precision achieved. Across surveys, the median prevalence estimate was 5.2/10,000. Half the surveys had 95{\%} confidence intervals consistent with population estimates of 5.4-5.5/10,000. Prevalence rates significantly increased with publication year, reflecting changes in case definition and improved recognition; the median rate was 7.2/10,000 for 11 surveys conducted since 1989. The average male/female ratio was 3.8:1, varying according to the absence or presence of mental retardation. Intellectual functioning within the normal range was reported in about 20{\%} of subjects. On average, medical conditions of potential causal significance were found in 6{\%} of subjects with autism, with tuberous sclerosis having a consistently strong association with autism. Social class and immigrant status did not appear to be associated with autism. There was no evidence for a secular increase in the incidence of autism. In eight surveys, rates for other forms of pervasive developmental disorders were two to three times higher than the rate for autism. Conclusion. Based on recent surveys, a minimum estimate of 18.7/10,000 for all forms of pervasive developmental disorders was derived, which outlines the needs in special services for a large group of children.",
author = "Eric Fombonne",
year = "1999",
doi = "10.1017/S0033291799008508",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "29",
pages = "769--786",
journal = "Psychological Medicine",
issn = "0033-2917",
publisher = "Cambridge University Press",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The epidemiology of autism

T2 - A review

AU - Fombonne, Eric

PY - 1999

Y1 - 1999

N2 - Background. There is some uncertainty about the rate and correlates of autism. Method. Twenty-three epidemiological surveys of autism published in the English language between 1966 and 1998 were reviewed. Results. Over 4 million subjects were surveyed; 1533 subjects with autism were identified. The methodological characteristics of each study are summarized, including case definition, case-finding procedures, participation rates and precision achieved. Across surveys, the median prevalence estimate was 5.2/10,000. Half the surveys had 95% confidence intervals consistent with population estimates of 5.4-5.5/10,000. Prevalence rates significantly increased with publication year, reflecting changes in case definition and improved recognition; the median rate was 7.2/10,000 for 11 surveys conducted since 1989. The average male/female ratio was 3.8:1, varying according to the absence or presence of mental retardation. Intellectual functioning within the normal range was reported in about 20% of subjects. On average, medical conditions of potential causal significance were found in 6% of subjects with autism, with tuberous sclerosis having a consistently strong association with autism. Social class and immigrant status did not appear to be associated with autism. There was no evidence for a secular increase in the incidence of autism. In eight surveys, rates for other forms of pervasive developmental disorders were two to three times higher than the rate for autism. Conclusion. Based on recent surveys, a minimum estimate of 18.7/10,000 for all forms of pervasive developmental disorders was derived, which outlines the needs in special services for a large group of children.

AB - Background. There is some uncertainty about the rate and correlates of autism. Method. Twenty-three epidemiological surveys of autism published in the English language between 1966 and 1998 were reviewed. Results. Over 4 million subjects were surveyed; 1533 subjects with autism were identified. The methodological characteristics of each study are summarized, including case definition, case-finding procedures, participation rates and precision achieved. Across surveys, the median prevalence estimate was 5.2/10,000. Half the surveys had 95% confidence intervals consistent with population estimates of 5.4-5.5/10,000. Prevalence rates significantly increased with publication year, reflecting changes in case definition and improved recognition; the median rate was 7.2/10,000 for 11 surveys conducted since 1989. The average male/female ratio was 3.8:1, varying according to the absence or presence of mental retardation. Intellectual functioning within the normal range was reported in about 20% of subjects. On average, medical conditions of potential causal significance were found in 6% of subjects with autism, with tuberous sclerosis having a consistently strong association with autism. Social class and immigrant status did not appear to be associated with autism. There was no evidence for a secular increase in the incidence of autism. In eight surveys, rates for other forms of pervasive developmental disorders were two to three times higher than the rate for autism. Conclusion. Based on recent surveys, a minimum estimate of 18.7/10,000 for all forms of pervasive developmental disorders was derived, which outlines the needs in special services for a large group of children.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0032804766&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0032804766&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1017/S0033291799008508

DO - 10.1017/S0033291799008508

M3 - Article

VL - 29

SP - 769

EP - 786

JO - Psychological Medicine

JF - Psychological Medicine

SN - 0033-2917

IS - 4

ER -