UCLA study finds more autism diagnoses in immigrant populations

Courtesy Wall Street Journal.

Courtesy Wall Street Journal.

Los Angeles, California – For years it was believed that autism affected more Caucasian children than any other group. But University of California’s newly gathered information strongly suggests otherwise. By looking at birth records the study concluded that children of foreign-born Hispanic, African-American, Central or South American, Vietnam, and Philippine mothers have a higher risk for autism then those of American born mothers.

Maternal age, education, health insurance other diagnosis influencing elements where factored into the results. The study focused on birth data from 1995-2005.

Beate Ritz, the study’s senior author and epidemiologist at the university told the Wall Street Journal,

“Once we adjusted for all these variations the patterns looked completely different.”

Of the data they collected 7,540 children were diagnosed between the ages of 3-5. Black foreign-born mothers carried a 76% higher risk of having a child with autism. A Vietnam-born mothers risk was 43%, Central and South American mothers risk was 26%, and Philippine mothers was 25%.

With these new findings also came new ideas. The most prominent among them purports that stress within the womb while brain connections are first forming may trigger autism. However the largest cause for high autism diagnoses is that Los Angelas County offers free assessment and services for children with autism regardless of immigration, health insurance, or income status.

The original research from Pediatrics can be found here.

This discovery is not new however.  CBC Canada reported on a high number of autistic children come from immigrant families, a phenomenon seen in major cities across North America  back in 2007 in this article.