Prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions: UK school-based population study.

Br J Psychiatry 2009 Jun;194(6):500-9

University of Cambridge, Autism Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, Douglas House, 18b Trumpington Road, Cambridge CB2 8AH, UK.

Background: Recent reports estimate the prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions in the UK to be 1%.

Aims: To use different methods to estimate the prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions, including previously undiagnosed cases, in Cambridgeshire.

Method: We carried out a survey of autism-spectrum conditions using the Special Educational Needs (SEN) register. A diagnosis survey was distributed to participating schools to be handed out to parents of all children aged 5-9 years. The mainstream primary school population was screened for unknown cases.

Results: The prevalence estimates generated from the SEN register and diagnosis survey were 94 per 10 000 and 99 per 10 000 respectively. A total of 11 children received a research diagnosis of an autism-spectrum condition following screening and assessment. The ratio of known:unknown cases is about 3:2 (following statistical weighting procedures). Taken together, we estimate the prevalence to be 157 per 10 000, including previously undiagnosed cases.

Conclusions: This study has implications for planning diagnostic, social and health services.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.108.059345DOI Listing
June 2009
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