Friday, December 21, 2007

Canadian Autism Prevalence Rates Different Than US Rates?

In early February 2007 the Center for Disease Control, the CDC, publicly revised its autism estimated prevalence rate from 1 in 166 Americans to 1 in 150. In Canada the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the CIHR, web site indicates on its autism page, Health Research: Key to improving outcomes for children with autism, that "Autism, or more appropriately autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), affects an estimated 6 of every 1000 Canadian children." The calculator program on your computer will tell you that 6 in 1000 is roughly 1 in 166, the old CDC figure.

Why the discrepancy between the CDC's estimated prevalence rate and the CIHR's estimated Canadian rate? There are a number of possible explanations:

1) Canada, for reasons that could be environmentally or genetically based, could actually have fewer persons with autism spectrum disorders than the United States.

2) The CIHR may simply be using the old CDC estimate, unaware that the CDC revised its estimates of autism prevalence almost one year ago.

3) The CIHR may be aware that the CDC has changed its estimate but disagrees with the new estimate.

4) The CIHR may be aware of the newer CDC estimate and may agree with it; but can't be bothered to update its autism website information.

I am going to go out on a limb and guess that the correct answer is .... 4) The CIHR can't be bothered to update its autism website information. That explanation would be consistent with the attitude of the CIHR's political masters, the Harper government, which can't be bothered making a serious effort to address Canada's autism crisis.

And this is the same CIHR which said that it wants to build ties in Canada's autism community and help disseminate autism information to those communities? Maybe those of us who are merely ignorant parents, whose shoes will never be asked to tread the carpets of the CIHR national autism symposiums, should weigh carefully the information that ultimately emerges from those secretive conventions.

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