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New Study Offers First Reliable Estimate of Autism Prevalence in Oman

A new study of autism prevalence in Oman has found that 0.2% of children in that country are on the autism spectrum. According to a Spectrum News report, this estimate is about 15 times higher than a 2011 finding, which was the only other study of autism prevalence in Oman. The increase in autism prevalence might reflect Oman’s efforts over the past five years to diagnose and treat autism, and to raise autism awareness. As part of this effort, a 2017 national screening program required all children in Oman to be screened for autism at 18 months, when they receive their measles-mumps-rubella vaccines. Watfa al-Mamari, the lead investigator in the new study, said the results emphasize the need for increased autism screening. While the 2011 study found only 113 children with autism in the entire country, the new study identified 1,705 children with autism in Oman, out of 847,655 children. The prevalence of autism in Omani boys nearly four times higher than in girls, a statistic in line with autism estimates in other countries. Mayada Elsabbagh, associate director of the Azrieli Centre for Autism Research at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, said the increased autism prevalence in Oman might reflect improved services there. The new survey found a higher prevalence of autism in younger children than in older ones. 30.34 children with autism were identified per 10,000 children aged 0 to 4, compared with 4.52 children between 10 and 14 years old. Eric Fombonne, director of autism research at the Institute on Development and Disability at Oregon Health and Science University, said this variation might be linked to the fact that younger children are benefitting from new programs and increasing autism awareness. Fombonne believes this trend suggests that autism prevalence estimates in Oman are likely to rise again. Source: https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/analysis-offers-first-reliable-estimate-of-prevalence-in-oman/

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