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Epidemiology of Autistic Disorder and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Eric Fombonne, MD, FRCPsych

Published: December 15, 2005

Article Abstract

Is the incidence of autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) increasing?Recent epidemiological surveys of autistic disorder and other PDDs have heightened awarenessof and concern about the prevalence of these disorders; however, differences in survey methodology,particularly changes in case definition and case identification over time, have made comparisons betweensurveys difficult to perform and interpret. Recent surveys suggest that the rate of all PDDs isabout 60 per 10,000. The prevalence of autism today is estimated at 13 per 10,000, Asperger’s disorderis approximately 3 per 10,000, and childhood disintegrative disorder is very rare at about 0.2 per10,000. The assessment process, sample size, publication year, and geographic location of studies allhave an effect on prevalence estimates. In addition, data from many of these surveys indicate correlatesof autistic disorder and other PDDs with IQ, gender, and other medical disorders.

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