Autism Sociodemographic Groups Recently Reversed

November 23, 2020

Incidence Rates Now Higher within African American and Asian Communities

When autism diagnoses began to increase during the 1990s, the prevalence rates were historically highest among Caucasians and those of higher socioeconomic status (SES). This trend continued for years. However, a new research article published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences of the United States of America has detailed a clear reversal point to this trend, demonstrating that by 2018, children of Black and Asian mothers were diagnosed with autism at higher rates than White mothers. Additionally, children of non-Hispanic White and Asian mothers belonging to lower SES were diagnosed more often than those of higher SES.  The article’s authors came to this conclusion by accessing California birth records from 1992 to 2016 and linking those records to autism caseloads associated with California’s Department of Developmental Services from January 1992 through November 2019. Earlier this year, researchers Cynthia Nevison, Ph.D., and William Parker Ph.D., discovered a similar phenomenon, namely autism rates are escalating for African American and Hispanic families as well as economically disadvantaged families, while the rates for wealthy Caucasian families have declined. The researchers of this new article believe that the reversal in sociodemographic groups align with theories of health disparities within our country and could point to important clues for a more complete understanding of the autism epidemic.

Original Research

Study Abstract


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