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      The Changing Epidemiology of Autism Spectrum Disorders

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          Abstract

          Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition with lifelong impacts. Genetic and environmental factors contribute to ASD etiology, which remains incompletely understood. Research on ASD epidemiology has made significant advances in the past decade. Current prevalence is estimated to be at least 1.5% in developed countries, with recent increases primarily among those without comorbid intellectual disability. Genetic studies have identified a number of rare de novo mutations and gained footing in the areas of polygenic risk, epigenetics, and gene-by-environment interaction. Epidemiologic investigations focused on nongenetic factors have established advanced parental age and preterm birth as ASD risk factors, indicated that prenatal exposure to air pollution and short interpregnancy interval are potential risk factors, and suggested the need for further exploration of certain prenatal nutrients, metabolic conditions, and exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. We discuss future challenges and goals for ASD epidemiology as well as public health implications.

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          Most cited references 185

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          Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)

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            Genetic relationship between five psychiatric disorders estimated from genome-wide SNPs.

            Most psychiatric disorders are moderately to highly heritable. The degree to which genetic variation is unique to individual disorders or shared across disorders is unclear. To examine shared genetic etiology, we use genome-wide genotype data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) for cases and controls in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We apply univariate and bivariate methods for the estimation of genetic variation within and covariation between disorders. SNPs explained 17-29% of the variance in liability. The genetic correlation calculated using common SNPs was high between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (0.68 ± 0.04 s.e.), moderate between schizophrenia and major depressive disorder (0.43 ± 0.06 s.e.), bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder (0.47 ± 0.06 s.e.), and ADHD and major depressive disorder (0.32 ± 0.07 s.e.), low between schizophrenia and ASD (0.16 ± 0.06 s.e.) and non-significant for other pairs of disorders as well as between psychiatric disorders and the negative control of Crohn's disease. This empirical evidence of shared genetic etiology for psychiatric disorders can inform nosology and encourages the investigation of common pathophysiologies for related disorders.
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              Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Annual Review of Public Health
                Annu. Rev. Public Health
                Annual Reviews
                0163-7525
                1545-2093
                March 20 2017
                March 20 2017
                : 38
                : 1
                : 81-102
                Article
                10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031816-044318
                6566093
                28068486
                © 2017

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

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