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Autism and adults

Posted Sep 23 2009 10:16pm

NHS National statistics have released a report entitled Autism Spectrum Disorders in adults living in households throughout England – report from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007. The key facts in this document that they list are:

  • Using the recommended threshold of a score of 10 or more on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, 1.0 per cent of the adult population had ASD. Published childhood population studies show the prevalence rate among children is also approximately 1.0 per cent.
  • The ASD prevalence rate was higher in men (1.8 per cent) than women (0.2 per cent). This fits with the gender profile found in childhood population studies.
  • There is no indication of any increased use of treatment or services for mental or emotional problems among adults with ASD. This is borne out by the recent National Audit Office publication “Supporting People with Autism Through Adulthood”.
  • A greater proportion of single people were assessed with ASD than people of other marital statuses combined. This was particularly evident among men.
  • Prevalence of ASD was associated with educational qualification, particularly among men. The rate for men was lowest among those with a degree level qualification and highest among those with no qualifications.

Understandably, the BBC have focused on an aspect not covered by these key points. The fact that the existence of a similar proportion of autistic adults to the proportion of children who are autistic undermines the idea that MMR vaccine has led to an increase in autism.

Latest autism figures should dispel any fears about the MMR jab being linked to the condition, say experts.

The NHS Information Centre found one in every hundred adults living in England has autism, which is identical to the rate in children.

If the vaccine was to blame, autism rates among children should be higher because the MMR has only been available since the early 1990s, the centre says.

Rather strangely the BBC provides a link on that news story to the JABS website, which continues to scaremonger about MMR and other vaccines. That editorial decision shows just how difficult it is going to be to ever disentangle vaccine conspiracy theories from autism.

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