On SAGE Insight: Maternal Race–Ethnicity, Immigrant Status, Country of Birth, and the Odds of a Child With Autism

From Child Neurology Open

Autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and interaction and by restricted and repetitive behaviors, interests, or activities.  In this retrospective study, Western Australian state registries and a study population of 134 204 mothers enabled authors to examine the odds of autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability in children born from 1994 to 2005. In some countries, the prevalence of diagnosed autism spectrum disorder is lower among children of women from minority ethnic groups. For example, children of Indigenous women in Australia and Canada have a lower prevalence of diagnosed autism spectrum disorder than the children of Caucasian women. In the United States, children born to Hispanic and Black women have lower prevalence of diagnosed autism spectrum disorder than children born to Caucasian women. This comprehensive assessment of the Western Australia population revealed three groups of children whose prevalence of diagnosed autism spectrum disorder, particularly autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability, diverged from the referent group—Caucasian children withnonimmigrant Caucasian mothers. Children born to Indigenous women had significantly lower prevalence of diagnosed autism spectrum disorder than the referent group, possibly associated with low socioeconomic status and poor access to diagnostic services. Children of women of Asian race–ethnicity who migrated from parts of other Asia also had significantly lower prevalence of diagnosed autism spectrum disorder; however, the underlying reason is likely different from that for children born to Indigenous women. These Asian immigrant women were of higher than average socioeconomic status, suggesting the possibility of a healthy immigranteffect. Finally, the high prevalence of diagnosed autism spectrum disorder in children born to Black women from East Africa is in line with a few other small studies. However, neither our study nor previous studies could explore the possible underlying reasons.

 Abstract

The risk of autism spectrum disorder varies by maternal race–ethnicity, immigration status, and birth region. In this retrospective cohort study, Western Australian state registries and a study population of 134 204 mothers enabled us to examine the odds of autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability in children born from 1994 to 2005 by the aforementioned characteristics. We adjusted for maternal age, parity, socioeconomic status, and birth year. Indigenous women were 50% less likely to have a child with autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability than Caucasian, nonimmigrant women. Overall, immigrant women were 40% less likely to have a child with autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability than nonimmigrant women. However, Black women from East Africa had more than 3.5 times the odds of autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability in their children than Caucasian nonimmigrant women. Research is implicated on risk and protective factors for autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability in the children of immigrant women.


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Article details
Maternal Race–Ethnicity, Immigrant Status, Country of Birth, and the Odds of a Child With Autism
Jenny Fairthorne, PhD, Nick de Klerk, PhD, Helen M. Leonard, MBChB, MPH,
First Published January 12, 2017
DOI: 10.1177/2329048X16688125
From Child Neurology Open

 

 

     
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