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Autism in a recently arrived immigrant population

Authors
  • Bolton, Suzanne1, 2, 3
  • McDonald, Denise4
  • Curtis, Emma4
  • Kelly, Stephanie1
  • Gallagher, Louise5
  • 1 Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St. James’s Hospital, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, James’s St, Dublin 8, Ireland , Dublin 8 (Ireland)
  • 2 Adelaide and Meath incorporating the National Children’s Hospital Tallaght, Department of Community Paediatrics, Dublin, Ireland , Dublin (Ireland)
  • 3 Trinity College Dublin, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St. James’s Hospital, James’s St., Dublin, Ireland , Dublin (Ireland)
  • 4 Adelaide and Meath incorporating the National Children’s Hospital Tallaght, Dublin, Ireland , Dublin (Ireland)
  • 5 Trinity College Dublin, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Dublin, Ireland , Dublin (Ireland)
Type
Published Article
Journal
European Journal of Pediatrics
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Oct 02, 2013
Volume
173
Issue
3
Pages
337–343
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00431-013-2149-6
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

This study aims to establish whether children of an immigrant maternal population presented with a higher rate of autism than the indigenous population and to explore their presentation with regard to severity of symptoms, demographics and ethnicity. It is a retrospective case note analysis of 366 children who presented to the paediatric developmental service in the Adelaide and Meath incorporating the National Children’s Hospital, Tallaght, Ireland between 2007 and 2009. During the study period, 366 children presented. Fifty-eight children (16 %) had mothers who were born in Africa and 53 (14 %) were born to mothers originating from a wider variety of countries. Two hundred and forty-eight children (68 %) had mothers born in Ireland. Maternal origin was not identified for seven children (2 %). An autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) was diagnosed in 131 children and speech and language delay in 132. Of the children with an ASD diagnosis, a higher proportion of the African cohort 13/18 (72.2 %) presented with moderate/severe cognitive disability compared to the Irish group 9/55(16.3 %), and the children in the African cohort showed a higher heritability with 36.9 % having a positive family history of autism reported compared to 26.3 % of the Irish cohort with an ASD diagnosis. Conclusion: This study highlights an observation of increased rates of ASD among a migrant population derived particularly from children born to mothers originating in Sub-Saharan Africa. This cohort is more severely affected. Further validation in an epidemiological sample is warranted, which if replicated, may help to identify possible aetiological risk factors.

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