Differing Diagnostic Trends in Autism Spectrum Disorders Between Ethnic Groups Reflecting Potential Etiological Risk Factors

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Gary Diamond Lutfi Jaber


Introduction: Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication, and by restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.  Symptoms typically are apparent before age three years.

Aim: To determine the prevalence of ASD amongst children along ethno-religious lines, where differences might point to potential trigger factors in its causation in a middle to high-income country.

Methods: Diagnostic trends of ASD over the past 18 years were examined over a wide geographical area of central Israel, encompassing a database of 331,169 children, aged 3-18 years. Special importance was attached to statistics from different religious and ethno-cultural groups as potentially reflecting discrepancies in diagnosis, reporting, and possible environmentally- related factors in the presentation of a genetically determined  syndrome.

Results: Overall prevalence was 0.005 (1/200 live births), well below figures from other similar studies abroad and in Israel. Prevalence figures for the ultra-orthodox Jewish community were low (0.0021), when compared with the general population and similar that among Israeli Arabs (0.0017). Time trends indicated a surge in diagnosis of ASD among Israeli Arabs between the years 2008 and 2011, in contrast with a general flattening of figures for the orthodox community.
Conclusions: Results indicated that besides discrepancies in diagnosis and reporting factors, there exists a possible relation between the actual expression of ASD, its genetic predisposition and socioeconomic/cultural status as impacting as part of the epigenetic factors in the causality of autism. Our prevalence rates are currently lower than those of ASD in Europe and the USA.

Keywords: Autism, autism spectrum disorder, Arab, Jews, prevalence

Article Details

How to Cite
DIAMOND, Gary; JABER, Lutfi. Differing Diagnostic Trends in Autism Spectrum Disorders Between Ethnic Groups Reflecting Potential Etiological Risk Factors. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 10, n. 8, aug. 2022. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <https://esmed.org/MRA/mra/article/view/2976>. Date accessed: 03 dec. 2023. doi: https://doi.org/10.18103/mra.v10i8.2976.
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