Altered diagnosis has led to growth in autism

Posted on November 7, 2014

This is shown by a new study of disease prevalence among all individuals born in Denmark in the period 1980-1991, a total of 677,915 individuals. The results have recently been published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics.

For the first time, researchers are able to confirm a widespread hypothesis, which is that an altered focus on autism can directly explain the majority of the dramatic increase in the disorder’s statistics.

The researchers have specifically focused on a change in the diagnostic system used by psychiatrists. This change occurred in 1994 and meant that autism is today recognised as a whole spectrum of disorders. But it also included an alteration in the specific symptoms that form the basis of the autism diagnosis.

The other important change took place in 1995 when the Danish national health registers began to include diagnoses made in connection with outpatient consultations. Before then, only diagnoses from hospital admissions were recorded.

Putting it simply, a person with an autism diagnosis has a slightly different symptom profile after the middle of the 1990s than previously, which is reflected in the statistics.

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Source material from Psy Post