Autism as common in young as in older adults in England

January 01, 0001

Autism as common in young as in older adults in England

These UK authors postulated that if the prevalence of autism is increasing, rates in older adults would be expected to be lower than rates among younger adults. They conducted a stratified, multiphase random sample in a national survey of psychiatric morbidity in adults in England in 2007. Survey data were weighted to take account of study design and nonresponse so that the results were representative of the household population. They identified people 16 years or older with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) based on validated diagnostic interview techniques. Respondents also provided information on sociodemographics and their use of mental health services.

They found: "Of 7461 adult participants who provided a complete phase 1 interview, 618 completed phase 2 diagnostic assessments. The weighted prevalence of ASD in adults was estimated to be 9.8 per 1000. Prevalence was not related to the respondent's age. Rates were higher in men, those without educational qualifications, and those living in rented social (government- financed) housing. There was no evidence of increased use of services for mental health problems."

The authors concluded: "Conducting epidemiologic research on ASD in adults is feasible. The prevalence of ASD in this population is similar to that found in children. The lack of an association with age is consistent with there having been no increase in prevalence and with its causes being temporally constant. Adults with ASD living in the community are socially disadvantaged and tend to be unrecognized."

These results are not surprising.

For the full abstract, click here.

Arch Gen Psychiatry 68(5):459-465, May 2011
© 2011 to the American Medical Association
Epidemiology of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Adults in the Community in England. Traolach S. Brugha, Sally McManus, John Bankart, et al. Correspondence to Dr. Brugha: [email protected]

Category: N. Neurological, P. Psychological. Keywords: autism, autistic spectrum disorders, adults, rates, epidemiology, cross-sectional population-based study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Linda French, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 13 May 2011

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