Swedish Study Doubts Autism Epidemic

international autism prevalence

With the number of diagnoses of autism seemingly increasing every day, it seems as though an epidemic of sorts has arisen. However, a new study has found that instead of autism occurring more commonly, more people are simply being diagnosed with it.

In the United States, the prevalence of autism diagnoses has more than doubled since the government started keeping track in 2000. Fifteen years later, it is now estimated that there is a 1 in 68 chance of being diagnosed with autism.

Christopher Gillberg, who is the head of the Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Center at the University of Gotheburg in Sweden, says that there has been an increasing amount of money spent on research to understand what causes autism. However, Gillberg also says that findings tend to indicate that awareness of autism is increasing, so therefore more people are being properly diagnosed.

In carrying out their research, Gillberg and his team looked at two datasets that included 1.1 million children over a ten-year period in Sweden. One set detailed the health of all Swedish citizens and the other had information about twins born in the country. All of the data sets included whether or not the individual had autism.

By using several different statistical methods to compare the data, the research concluded that the reasoning for the increase in diagnoses was due to more knowledge, rather than a greater incidence of autism.

Written by Sejal Sheth

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