Prospective Examination of 6-year Cumulative Incidence of ASDs: A Total Population Study
Kim, Young Shin
The prevalence of autism has increased dramatically over the past 10 years, however, reported measures of prevalence do not accurately assess the role of the environment over better diagnostic techniques and service availability. This is better evaluated by measuring the incidence of autism over time – that is, the number of new cases initially not diagnosed with autism, then later diagnosed with autism on a yearly basis using rigorous screening, standard diagnostic assessments and valid case ascertainment in a specific age category over successive years. In addition, the study must include a defined group and accurately assess all members of that group. Because Korea is a relatively genetic homogeneous group as compared with other countries, and because the investigators have established the parameters listed above in their previous studies investigating autism in a geographically defined region in a large group of people, this is an ideal situation to examine the changes in incidence and prevalance over time. The investigators in Korea and in the US have already developed methods to identify, screen and diagnose children with autism using a grant from Autism Speaks in 2005. Therefore, this project will allow Dr. Kim and her colleagues to analyze incidence rates over time in 6 year olds with autism in Korea. What this means for people with autism: Both the ongoing and proposed research is potentially modeled for state-of-the-art epidemiological research on ASDs across cultures. Along with the ongoing prevalence study, the proposed study will provide incidence proportions of ASD up to age 6 among four consecutive birth cohorts. This pilot study, along with futuresurveillance studies, will pave the way to answering critical questions about the cause of the increase in autism over the past decade.