Explaining the Increase in the Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Proportion Attributable to Changes in Reporting Practices

Published November 3, 2014 in Pediatrics

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders has increased markedly in recent decades, which researchers have suggested could be caused in part by factors such as changes in diagnosis reporting practices. This study in Pediatrics sought to quantify the degree to which changes in reporting practices might explain this increase. Danish national health registries have undergone a change in diagnostic criteria in 1994 and the inclusion of outpatient contacts to health registries in 1995, thus Danish prevalence was studied. The study found that changes in reporting practices can account for most (60%) of the increase in the observed prevalence of ASDs in children born from 1980 through 1991 in Denmark, which supports the argument that the apparent increase in ASDs in recent years is in large part attributable to changes in reporting practices.


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