In England, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in adults is the same as that in children: approximately 10 per 1000 individuals. This rate is higher than some earlier studies have suggested, and there does not appear to be a reduction in this prevalence with age, according to a new study published in the May issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
The study also found that people with ASD were significantly more likely to live in government-financed housing than private housing and to be single. In addition, people with ASD were less likely to go on to study at the university level.
“Overall, our findings suggest that prevalence is neither rising nor falling significantly,” the authors write. “This favors the interpretation that methods of ascertainment have changed in more recent surveys of children compared with the earliest surveys in which the rates reported were considerably lower.”
They add that the recent apparent increases in rates of diagnosis must reflect an improved ability to detect ASD cases rather than “some new environmental toxin.”
The authors conclude that their findings have some important implications for public health policies, not only in the United Kingdom, where social, educational, welfare, and healthcare services are well established, but also in lower-income countries.
“A great deal more research should be directed at the epidemiology and care of adults with this condition,” they write.
J. Kyle Mathews, MD
Plano OBGYN Associates
Plano Urogynecology Associates