08 Mar Autism: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in ASD
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Kevin Lu PhD
Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences
College of Pharmacy
Medical University of South Carolina
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: It is documented that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been increasing in the past few years. However, no information on potential racial and ethnic disparities in ASD diagnosis can be found in the literature. Most recently, the possible structural racism and health inequities have been a concern for the public and policy makers.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Our findings suggested racial and ethnic disparities in the trends of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children. Specifically, from 2014 to 2019, the ASD prevalence remained stable in White children; but increased by 40% in Black and Hispanic children. Black children have the highest prevalence of ASD since 2018. The percentage of Black children diagnosed with the developmental disorder increased to 3.2% in 2019 from 2.2% six years earlier. Over the same period, the prevalence of the disorder in Hispanic children rose to 2.1% from 1.5%
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Policymakers should continue to focus on ensuring equal access to healthcare for the goal of health equity in ASD children. Parents should be aware that minority background, lower socioeconomic status, and disadvantaged social experience may contribute to the risk of having a later diagnosis of autism.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future research should continue to monitor the trend of ASD diagnosis, with special attention on racial and ethnic minorities given the recent increase. It is also important to understand the reasons for the increase in the prevalence of ASD in Black and Hispanic children. Is it because of the improved access to healthcare for earlier diagnosis–which is the good news or is it by the genetic inequities–which is the bad news.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Racial/ethnic disparities in ASD reflect multiple levels of inequities–from individual’s genetic factors to nonetiologic factors such as disease awareness and health care access. The rising prevalence of ASD may be linked to an earlier diagnosis in African American children, or linked to the environmental etiological factors, such as preterm birth and social experience in infancy.
This rising trend from our study may be explained by the improved access to healthcare for earlier diagnosis–which is the good news, or by the genetic inequities–which is the bad news. These findings call for a better understanding on nonetiologic and etiologic factors associated with racial/ethnic disparities in autism diagnosis.
We have no disclosures.
Yuan J, Li M, Lu ZK. Racial/Ethnic Disparities in the Prevalence and Trends of Autism Spectrum Disorder in US Children and Adolescents. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(3):e210771. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.0771
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