ASD affects approximately 0.62–0.70% of the population, although estimates of 1–2% have been made in the latest large-scale surveys. Over the past 30 years, the number of reported cases of ASD has been increasing rapidly. This increase of ASD cases has been partly explained as a result of changes in diagnosis and classification criteria, early diagnosis, the better awareness and recognition, the type of areas studied (rural vs urban areas) and also possible differences across countries. However, it has not been possible to rule out an increase of the ASD incidence due to the influence of some environmental risk factors.

In addition, irrespective of the causes of the increasing prevalence, it is a reality that there are now more ASD cases diagnosed during childhood and adolescence that need care, attention and treatment. Moreover, if an increasing prevalence is a reality, incidence would have been rising during previous years, and a real concern about improving research for environmental causes should be incorporated into autism research policy decisions.

The lack of mechanisms to obtain consistent and reliable information about ASD trends at the European level is an important obstacle for the development of better and more equitable services. Hence, prevalence estimation across Europe and the development of a standardized strategy to be used for future surveillance of the ASD figures constitute important pieces of the puzzle of autism in the European Union.

Posters & Communications

XI Autism Europe International Congress 2016
16-18 September, 2016 in Edinburgh

ASD Prevalence Study across Europe
Strategy Design based on two different methodologies

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Painting by Elbio Fernández Sara. Person diagnosed of autism.