Reviewing the Autism Prevalence (The Epidemiology: Part 2)
The first thing to note is the difference between studies over the years. In fact wide discrepancy can be observed in the Autistic Disorder specific prevalence per 10,000 persons in the whole world. This includes (.7) calculated by Treffort (1970) using criteria established by Dr. Kanner’s (The person who first described Autism) observations. Sugiyama & Abe (1989) calculated (13) using The Diagnostic and Statistic Manuel-III (DSM) criteria. This can be compared to the greater prevalence of (72.6) calculated by Kadesjo, Gillberg, & Hapberg (1999) using The DSM-III and the Revised International Disease Classification-10 (ICD).
The ICD-10 and the DSM-IV have some discrepancies and although close, are not totally comparable. When viewing studies that offer a rate of all the Pervasive Developmental Disorders, a range can be found from (11.2) per 10,000 persons (Fombonne, & du Mazabrun, 1992), through (67.4) (Bertrand et al., 2001). The problem with these data is that they are calculated from different diagnostics, some of which are more stringent and that they used population samples of different sizes.
Fombonne (2003) lists the prevalence rates of 32 Autism Epidemiology studies from (1966-2001). These are listed in tables (I, III) within (Fombonne, 2003). These data are taken on world wide epidemiology. I calculated the means of these studies by decade, because an increase can be observed this way. It should be noted that the specific decade mean, that a study was placed in this paper, was determined by the year it was published and not the year of the actual data collection.
Fombonne (2003) lists the prevalence rates of 32 Autism Epidemiology studies from (1966-2001). Based on this I calculated the mean in the 1970’s at (3.27) per 10,000 (Standard Deviation =2.24). I calculated this in the 1980’s at (6.98) per 10,000 (SD=5.12). I calculated this in the 1990’s at (19.26) per 10,000 (SD=22.5). I calculated this in the year’s post 1999 at (21.06) per 10,000 (SD=11.78).
The standard deviations are very large in comparison to the means. In the 1990s the standard deviation exceeded the mean. This is an indication of the very discrepant results within this decade. In years post 1999 the standard deviation decreases, showing a greater consistency of the studies.
Using table (3) in the Fombonne (2003) display of studies that calculate Pervasive Developmental Disorder, I calculate the mean in the 1970’s at (13.7) per 10,000 (SD=10.61). I calculated this in the 1980’s at (8.5) per 10,000 (SD=2.96). I calculated this in the 1990’s at (13.75) per 10,000 (SD=3.61). I calculated this in the year’s post 1999 at (49.8) per 10,000 (SD=20.2). In this case the 1970s research seems to have more variation than the more recent decades.
This analysis does not include the most recent epidemiology, specifically Chakrabarti & Fombonne, (2005). However, this study should not significantly affect the standard deviation and mean. It will raise the mean slightly towards the prevalence predicted in Chakrabarti & Fombonne, (2005).
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