Higher Prevalence of Autism Disorders Seen in IT Regions

But prevalence of dyspraxia and ADHD remain similar in IT-rich and control regions

MONDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Autism spectrum conditions (ASC) are more common in children residing in regions which are centers of information technology (IT), according to a study published online June 17 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Martine T. Roelfsema, from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues investigated the prevalence of ASC in school-aged children in three regions in the Netherlands. A total of 62,505 school children were compared from schools in IT-rich Eindhoven and control regions of Haarlem and Utrecht. Schools provided information for the total number of children enrolled, the number with a clinical diagnosis of ASC and/or two control neurodevelopmental conditions (dyspraxia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]). Prevalence was analyzed and data were adjusted to take into account non-responses and the size of the schools.

The investigators found that the prevalence of ASC in Eindhoven was 229 children per 10,000, which was significantly higher than in either of the control regions (84 per 10,000 in Haarlem and 57 per 10,000 in Utrecht). The prevalence of dyspraxia and ADHD was similar in all regions.

"Our study suggests a two- to four-fold higher ASC rate in the Eindhoven region, whilst the prevalence of ADHD and dyspraxia were similar in the three regions," the authors write.

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