The rapid rise in autism in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) raises a question in the mind of people, i.e. why is autism on the increase.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1% of the world population has autism spectrum disorder, which amounts to over 75 million people all around the globe. About 1 in 44 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Why the Rise in Autism?
Now, let’s come to the main question and the topic of this article, i.e. Why the Rise in Autism? Although the number of children diagnosed with autism is increasing rapidly, this is not because of more children developing autism, but because of the increase in the diagnosis of the cases.
According to experts, the rapid increase in the number of reported cases of autism depends upon the following reasons:
1) Large-scale screening:
The American Academy of Pediatrics, in 2006, approved a recommendation for the large-scale screening of autism for all children between 18 and 24 months of age, who are doing their routine pediatrician visits.
This large-scale screening resulted in the diagnosis of more children by the pediatricians who would have slipped under the radar otherwise. This also included the mild cases of autism that were detected by the doctors during routine health assessments that would have gone missing otherwise.
2) Increased awareness:
The increased awareness of autism among the general public has made the general public more aware of autism spectrum disorders. During the developmental disabilities monitoring of their kids, parents actively monitor their kids and ask the pediatricians to screen their kids for autism and provide medical advice if they see any autistic traits, repetitive behaviors, and developmental disorders or disabilities in their children.
3) Progressive public healthcare access:
The increased access to public healthcare to more people, especially the African American and Hispanic children resulted in improved detection of children with autism in these ethnic groups. Until a few years ago, these groups did not have proper access to the healthcare facilities, which resulted in lesser diagnoses in them, but more diagnosis in more people means more children with autism being diagnosed where the pediatrician can provide medical advice to them.
4) Broadened diagnostic criteria:
The older version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders did not allow the dual diagnosis of both Autism and ADHD. The latest manual version DSM-5 allows multiple diagnoses, and there is a provision in it to use the term Autism Spectrum Disorders for all three categories of it.
These were some of the causes behind the increased diagnosis of autism in people. These factors clearly answer the question that why is autism on the increase.
How has the Rise in Autism happened?
How has the Rise in Autism happened? There are many reasons why this might be the case, but one of the most likely reasons is that ASD has become more common due to changes in our society.
In earlier years, ASD was mainly diagnosed as a mental illness; however, today’s diagnosis allows for greater understanding of how ASD can affect individuals’ lives both physically and emotionally. Additionally, more parents are seeking out information about ASD so that they can better care for their children with this condition.
This has led to an increase in awareness of ASD and its effects on individuals and families across different countries.
What is being done to prevent the Rise in Autism?
What is being done to prevent the Rise in Autism? Some good examples include providing educational materials about autism spectrum disorder or providing support groups for families of autistic children. Additionally, businesses can also provide discounts or freebies for those with autistic features or products on their shelves.
Communities can provide financial assistance programs that help people with disabilities overcome economic barriers while traveling or living independently. There are many ways that communities and businesses can work together to prevent the rise in autism.
Why the increase in autism?
There is a rise in autism rates around the world, but it isn’t always known why. Some experts believe that the increase may be due to changes in parenting styles, while others think that it could be because of genetics. However, the most likely explanation is that it is a result of both factors.
What is the leading cause of autism?
There are multiple factors that become the causes of autism spectrum disorder. These include genetic and environmental factors as well as nongenetic factors. Furthermore, autism is not an infectious disease.
To find the answer to this question, twin and family studies were conducted which indicated that for more than 90% of the cases, autism spectrum disorder develops as a result of genetics, and autism is 90% related to inheritance.
This means that for more than 90% of the cases, genetics is the decider of whether a child will develop autism or not.
There are certain theories behind the environmental factors of autism, which can be defined as exposure to environmental toxins like certain pesticides during pregnancy, diabetes, maternal obesity, disorders of the immune system, very premature babies, very low birth weight, etc.
This was a brief definition and overview of autism. Let’s move on to why is autism on the increase?
When did autism become more prevalent?
Autism prevalence has not happened recently, but the prevalence of autism is present the same way in history as it is now. The only difference is that the advancement in medical sciences has boomed the number of cases that are diagnosed.
This gives an indication that autism has become more prevalent in the current age, which is not true. So, why is autism on the increase? I hope you have got a vague idea of the answer, but we will give you a vivid explanation later in this article.
According to Dr. Karthik Kumar, MD, extensive screening, increased awareness, better health care access, and broadened diagnostic criteria comes as the series of contributing factor behind the prevalence of autism and the increased number of children diagnosed with autism and more reported cases.
Furthermore, the older version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders did not allow multiple diagnoses, i.e. the diagnosis of both autism and ADHD in children, the condition which was removed in the latest version of DSM-5. This was also the contributing factor behind more children with an autism diagnosis.
What was the autism rate in 1990?
Why is autism on the increase? What was the autism prevalence if we go back in history? What were the prevalence estimates back in 1990s? In this section, we are going to make a comparison of the autism cases now and compare them with the number of children diagnosed with autism back in 1990.
Studies by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
During the 1980s, according to a study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of autism diagnosis in children was 0.1-0.4 per 1000 children, which increased ten-fold during the 1990s with this rate climbing to 2-7 per 1000 children.
As per this autism research, this rate further increased in the 2000s, where estimated autism prevalence ranged from 4.5 in West Virginia to 9.9 in New Jersey.
This study was conducted on the total population sample of all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic classes and was based on health and school records for children with 8-years of age in different counties across the USA. There was not found any difference between hispanic children with autism and non-hispanic children.
What country has the highest rate of autism?
The rate of estimated autism prevalence in different countries are varying. The overall prevalence of autism in the world is about 1% of the population, whereas the prevalence rates are varying in different countries.
The prevalence rates of autism also depend upon the rising awareness, healthcare facilities, and diagnostic criteria.
Counties with highest autism rates:
Nevertheless, a study during autism research indicated the autism prevalence rates being highest in the gulf countries.
The top 5 countries with the most number of children with autistic spectrum disorders in 2020 are the following:
Qatar: 151.2 per 10,000/
UAE: 112.4 per 10,000
Oman: 107.2 per 10,000
Bahrain: 103.3 per 10,000
Saudi Arabia: 100.7 per 10,000
This study also indicated that the developed European countries had the lowest rates of autism, France being at the lowest in the spectrum, with 69.3 per 1000 children.
What is Autism?
Autism or autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is a complex and lifelong disability, typically appearing during childhood. It impacts the person’s communication skills, social communication skills, relationships, and regulation of his own self.
Autism spectrum disorder is categorized under mental disorders and results in repetitive behaviors, intellectual disability, and a broad spectrum of other developmental disorders that affect the everyday life of a person.
Autism comes under the broad and general category of Autism Spectrum Disorders, which includes autism, pervasive developmental disorder, and Asperger’s syndrome.
Concluding the article, the study in this read indicates the possible causes that why the autism cases reported are increasing. The increase is in large-scale screening, increase awareness, broad criteria for diagnosis, and better healthcare facilities are the reasons behind the increase in autism cases. These studies give the answer to your question that why is autism on the increase?