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Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in a Total Population Sample

Posted May 08 2011 9:07pm

A long-awaited study of autism prevalence in Korea came out today in the American Journal of Psychiatry . Most of the information we have about autism prevalence comes from the US, the UK and Europe, so many were looking at this as the “Korean Study”. It is that, and very much more.

The title of the study is Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in a Total Population Sample. I expect the study will be gathering quite a lot of press as the results are quite remarkable. For one thing, the autism prevalence is estimated at 2.64%. That’s right, over double the current estimates in the United States and the U.K.. For another thing, most of the prevalence is for autistic students who were previously unidentified and unsupported.

Unfortunately, I was unable to obtain permission to review the article pre-embargo for discussion here on the Left Brain/Right Brain blog. Instead, I wrote about this for the Autism Science Foundation as Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in a Total Population Sample . There you will find a more thorough review of the paper, complete with questions and answers with team member Roy Richard Grinker of George Washington University. The study was led by Dr. Young Shin Kim of Yale, and includes an international team:

Young Shin Kim, M.D., Ph.D., Bennett L. Leventhal, M.D., Yun-Joo Koh, Ph.D. , Eric Fombonne, M.D. Eugene Laska, Ph.D., Eun-Chung Lim, M.A., Keun-Ah Cheon, M.D., Ph.D. ,Soo-Jeong Kim, M.D., Young-Key Kim, M.D., HyunKyung Lee, M.A., Dong-Ho Song, M.D., Roy Richard Grinker, Ph.D.

Again, the full post can be found at the Autism Science Foundation blog .

  1. Nicole:
    I've thought the prevalence of autism was higher for quite some time. I just know too many people who are either diagnosed or should qualify for a diagnosis for the number to really be 1 in 100. There were two kids at the grade school I went to (+/-54 kids per grade) who weren't diagnosed AFAIK, but in hindsight had extremely strong traits (one was my best friend and second cousin, her brother was more severely disabled and had a diagnosis of Aspergers). Both struggled quite a bit, I wonder if their lives would have been different had we known then what we know now. I don't think they needed services in as so much that they needed understanding and tolerance. I have a 6 year old brother diagnosed with PDD-NOS who I worry about- in many ways he is like them. He has a diagnosis, but people have difficulty accepting that a kid who is that bright, who can pass for typical so well really is on the spectrum. I know, in the past, he has been disciplined at school because of his differences, and I believe that even when we have these kids diagnosed we will continue to confront ignorance.
  2. rose:
    Wake me up when it's 4O%. That's what my family is...
  3. brian:
    A quick look at the World Health Organization schedule tables suggests that by three years of age children in South Korea receive about 1/3 fewer vaccinations than are suggested in the US and also fewer immunizations than are recommended in the UK. Parents in the US and the UK may thus be reassured that the high apparent prevalence of ASD in South Korea could be due to "too few, too late."
  4. AutismNewsBeat:
    No no no. It's cheap, imported Chinese kimchi pots. They are lined with MERCURY!
  5. Stuart Duncan:
    Most females either are not diagnosed or misdiagnosed. When those are accounted for, the numbers will go up. Many countries are lacking in doctors, education and facilities to assess the population properly. When they can, the numbers will go up. If they were to introduce another common disorder/syndrome to the umbrella of Autism (as they did with aspergers), the numbers would go up. All of these things (and more) have been happening, continue to happen and will only happen more over time. Sadly, all these factors do is fuel the 'epidemic' argument further as some people refuse to believe the facts.

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