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Population-Based Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in a Hispanic Population: Puerto Rico, 2011

Thursday, 2 May 2013: 09:00-13:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
J. F. Cordero1, A. F. Alonso2, H. F. Mattei3 and I. Torres4, (1)UPR School of Public Health, San Juan, PR, (2)Human Development, UPR School of Public Health, San Juan, PR, (3)Social Sciences - Demography, UPR School of Public Health, San Juan, PR, (4)Social Sciences - Social Determinants of Health, UPR School of Public Health, San Juan, PR
Background: Although it is now recognized that Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is highly prevalent, there is limited data on the epidemiology of ASD in Hispanic populations. We conducted a population-based survey of ASD among 4 to 17 year old children in Puerto Rico (PR) in 2011. 

Objectives: Estimate the prevalence of ASD in PR, its comorbidities, and the impact on the health system. 

Methods: Conducted a telephone-based random-digit-dial of the 9 health regions of PR using a structured survey based on questions of the National Survey of Children Health (NSCH) and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) translated to Spanish. ASD was defined based on parent or guardian report:  a health care provider indicated that the child has an ASD.  

Results:   The prevalence of ASD was 1.62% [95% IC: 1.4-1.9]. The male:female ratio was 6.5:1. Prevalence by health region was similar and not statistically different from the island-wide rate of ASD. Comorbid disorders were prevalent (92%) including epilepsy (10%), gastrointestinal conditions (30%), food allergies (23%) and respiratory allergies (30%) among others. Insurance coverage was 98%, but nearly half reported that insurance did not cover the needed health services needed. Conclusions: ASD in Puerto Rico among the highest in the United States following New Jersey and Utah. Comorbid conditions are common among individuals with ASD and  there is an important gap in coverage of needed health services among insured. These results underscore the urgent need to increase efforts enhance and address needs of families impacted by ASD at all ages in Puerto Rico and beyond.

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