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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Prevalence in China

In the preface to The Politics of Autism, I note that we need more comparative studies of autism.  At Autism Research, Xiang Sun and colleagues -- including Simon Baron-Cohen -- have an article titled "Exploring the Underdiagnosis and Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Conditions in Beijing." The abstract:
Previous studies reported that the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) in mainland China is much lower than estimates from developed countries (around 1%). The aim of the study is to apply current screening and standardized diagnostic instruments to a Chinese population to establish a prevalence estimate of ASC in an undiagnosed population in mainland China. We followed the design development used previously in the UK published in 2009 by Baron-Cohen and colleagues. The Mandarin Childhood Autism Spectrum Test (CAST) was validated by screening primary school pupils (n = 737 children age 6–10 years old) in Beijing and by conducting diagnostic assessments using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised. The prevalence estimate was generated after adjusting and imputing for missing values using the inverse probability weighting. Response was high (97%). Using the UK cutoff (≥15), CAST performance has 84% sensitivity and 96% specificity (95% confidence interval [CI]: 46, 98, and 96, 97, respectively). Six out of 103 children, not previously diagnosed, were found to the meet diagnostic criteria (8.5 after adjustment, 95% CI: 1.6, 15.4). The preliminary prevalence in an undiagnosed primary school population in mainland China was 119 per 10,000 (95% CI: 53, 265). The utility of CAST is acceptable as a screening instrument for ASC in large epidemiological studies in China. Using a comparable method, the preliminary prevalence estimate of ASC in mainland China is similar to that of those from developed countries.