Prevalence in Canada
At present there is no federal government monitoring system in place to provide us with accurate statistics on the prevalence of ASDs in Canada even though we do know that ASD is the most common form of any neurological disorder or severe developmental disability of childhood.
In the past two years, Health Canada has been partnering to begin conducting surveillance for ASDs within their current epidemiological surveillance systems. There are a number of differences across provincial and territorial health care systems (in how ASDs are diagnosed and recorded) that make this research challenging. Autism Society Canada continues to stress the importance and urgency of developing such monitoring.
Canadian Prevalence Studies
Some interesting epidemiological research studies are underway in Canada. Directed by Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz, the National Epidemiologic Database for the Study of Autism in Canada (NEDSAC) was established in 2001 as part of the Autism Spectrum Disorders–Canadian-American Research Consortium. The database was established as a way to track the number of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in different regions of Canada. ASDs tracked currently include autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Aspergers.
A March 2012 NEDSAC report documents changes in prevalence in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Southeastern Ontario. These documents are available at the NEDSAC website at www.nedsac.ca (under Publications and Reports) or click on the links below.
Findings from the National Epidemiologic Database for the Study of Autism in Canada (NEDSAC): Changes in the Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Southeastern Ontario: Key Findings [PDF].
Findings from the National Epidemiologic Database for the Study of Autism in Canada (NEDSAC): Changes in the Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Southeastern Ontario: Full Report [PDF].
Prevalence of autism in Canada
Autism is now recognized as the most common neurological disorder affecting children and one of the most common developmental disabilities.
Prevalence in the United States
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new data from multiple communities in the U.S. in 2012 reporting that the prevalence rate of ASD in the United States was 1 in 88 based on combined data from fourteen monitoring sites between 2000–2008.
Through the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM) and the Centers of Excellence for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology (CADDRE), the CDC is continuing to fund prevalence studies on children with ASD in other parts of the country. Through this network, states are currently beginning new or improving existing surveillance mechanisms. The ADDM Network is producing comparable, population-based estimates of the prevalence rates of ASDs in different sites over time.
U.S. Autism Prevalence Rises to 1 in 110. Carin Yavorcik, Autism Society of America, December 24, 2009: CDC Report Highlights Increased Prevalence, Continued Delay in Identification as Critical Public Health Crisis affecting American Families.