MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Maureen Durkin, PhD, DrPH
Professor and Interim Chair
Department of Population Health Sciences
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Previous studies of the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children in the U.S. have found two consistent patterns. One is a higher prevalence among white non-Hispanic children than among black non-Hispanic or Hispanic children. The other is a positive socioeconomic gradient, meaning that ASD prevalence in the U.S. is found to increase with increasing income and other indicators of socioeconomic status.
One of the findings of this new study is that the racial and ethnic differences in autism spectrum disorder prevalence are not explained by socioeconomic factors, because even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors, ASD prevalence was found to be significantly lower in black and Hispanic children than in white non-Hispanic children. Another finding is that the gap in ASD prevalence between children of high and low socioeconomic status did not change over time between 2002 and 2010, though the overall prevalence of ASD more than doubled during this period.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: The persistence of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in the prevalence of ASD in the U.S. has important public health implications. The actual prevalence of autism spectrum disorder might be much higher than reported if it is being under-recognized in socioeconomically disadvantaged children. If the disparities in autism spectrum disorder prevalence are due to unequal access to autism services, the results of this study suggest that thousands of low and middle income children with ASD in the U.S. may not be receiving the services they need.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Universal screening for autism spectrum disorder as part of routine pediatric care could help ensure equitable access to autism services. This and other strategies are needed to help ensure that ASD services are reaching those in greatest need.
MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.
Citation: Maureen S. Durkin, Matthew J. Maenner, Jon Baio, Deborah Christensen, Julie Daniels, Robert Fitzgerald, Pamela Imm, Li-Ching Lee, Laura A. Schieve, Kim Van Naarden Braun, Martha S. Wingate, Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp. Autism Spectrum Disorder Among US Children (2002–2010): Socioeconomic, Racial, and Ethnic Disparities. American Journal of Public Health, 2017; 107 (11): 1818 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.304032
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