Autism plateau in the UK

A study published on October 9 claims that the number of children diagnosed with Autism and ASD is not rising in Britain.

The study published in the British Medical Journal and claims that although there was a surge in diagnosis throughout the 90s this has now plateaued at the beginning of the century.

Autism Daily Newscast explored the discussion of diagnostics v’s environmental factors on October 14, this study seems to indicate that increased awareness is partly responsible for the surge in numbers over the past twenty years and is backed by the National Autistic Society, who told the BBC that the study proved that autism had been around a long time.

The research conducted by the Institute of Child Health at University College London looked at GP data which represented 5% of patients in the UK. the collected data was then used to work out the amount of eight year olds with Autism in the UK annually.

What was found was the number of diagnosed children stabilised between 2004 and 2010 with 3.8 per 1000 boys and 0.8 per 1000 girls being diagnosed annually.

The study concluded there was “compelling evidence that a major rise in incidence rates of autism, recorded in general practice, occurred in the decade of the 1990s but reached a plateau shortly after 2000 and has remained steady through 2010”.

The researchers said changes in the way autism was diagnosed as well as greater awareness among doctors and the public explained some of the rise although “the actual cause [of the rise in the 90s] remains in large part a mystery”.

In Autism Daily Newscast’s previous report we looked at a contrasting report conducted by the US Centre for Disease Control, which reported a 78% rise between 2002 and 2008.

Taking into account the most recent UK census data, it seems that Autism and ASD is far more of a common occurrence prevailing with a figure which is closer to one in every 100 of the popultaion being diagnosed.

Carol Povey, from the National Autistic Society, said:

“This study shows that, contrary to media hype, autism has been with us for a long time.

“Evidence suggests that the increase in diagnoses of autism is in large part down to greater awareness of the condition, as well as better diagnostic facilities and improved skills and knowledge among those who carry out diagnoses.

“More than one in 100 people in the UK have autism and it’s important that we work to ensure they receive the support they need to reach their full potential.”