The British Journal of Psychiatry
Is autism more common now than ten years ago?
C Gillberg, S Steffenburg, H Schaumann


A total population study of children, aged 13 years and under, suggested that there has been an apparent rise in the frequency of autistic disorder and autistic-like conditions (excluding Asperger's syndrome) in one area of western Sweden over the last ten years. The frequency was 4.0/100,000 in 1980, 7.5/10,000 in 1984 and 11.6/10,000 in 1988 in the city of Göteborg. Even though the prevalence rates refer to slightly different age cohorts, it was concluded that the apparent increase is in part due to better detection, but also to new cases born to immigrant parents. Typical cases of autistic disorder accounted for 75% of cases, and 20% had normal or near-normal IQs.