At least 17 children in every 10,000 children in Bangladesh are born with autism, according to a study report released in the capital Thursday.
And more autistic children are born to the country’s urban, wealthy, educated and aged moms, revealed the study conducted from May to November in 2017 by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University’s Institute of Paediatric Neurodisorder and Autism.
The door to door study was conducted on 38,440 children in the 16 to 30-month age bracket across the country.
For the study 37,982 households were randomly selected in 300 upazilas of 30 districts.
According to the study, in the urban areas prevalence of autism is 25 per 10,000 children compared to rural areas’ 14 per 10,000 children.
In every 10,000 boys 24 were found to be autistic, compared to 9.8 girls in every 10,000.
The prevalence of autism among wealthy families’ children was found to be 33 per 10,000 children compared to 15 per 10,000 children in bottom wealth quintile families.
The highest prevalence of autism by maternal education category shows that 93 per 10,000 children of mothers having graduation or higher education were autistic.
The autism prevalence was five times higher for the children of mothers who gave birth between 35 and 39 compared to the mothers who did at 20 or less.
The study shows that maternal illnesses during pregnancy were related to high prevalence of autism in case of maternal hypertension-- 43 in 10,000 children, in case of diabetes –194 in 10,000, in case of asthma—68 in 10,000, in the event of fever with rash—48 in 10,000 and in case of urinary tract infection—33in 10,000.
The prevalence is 15 per 10,000 in children of the mothers who experienced no physical or mental stress during pregnancy but it was 44 per 10,000 children of mothers who suffered physical stress and 42 per 10,000 children of mothers who suffered mental stress and 52 per 10,000 children of mothers who experienced both physical and mental stress.
Premature births were associated with higher prevalence of autism—44 per 10,000 children compared to 15per 10,000 in the event of normal gestational births.
The prevalence of autism was higher among the children who were born through cesarean section—25 per 10,000 children while the rate is 17 per 10,000 children born through normal delivery.
Lead researcher Shaheen
Akhter told New Age that it was the first ever large scale study on prevalence of autism in Bangladesh.
She considers the rate of autism in Bangladesh still low needing to address the causes, identified during the study, to reduce the prevalence of autism.
‘The risks factors of autism identified by the study point at what should be done now,’ said Shaheen, director of BSMMU’s Institute of Paediatric Neurodisorder and Autism.
‘We need to start the autism prevention programme right now and carry out such studies after every three years to know the situation,’ she said.
She said that the prevalence of autism in the US was 16.9 per 10,000 children while 23 per 10,000 in India compared to the global prevalence of 76 per 10,000 children.
Speaking as chief guest at the dissemination programme at BSMMU, state minister for health Zahid Maleque said that autism became an important public health issue.
He said the study would help formulate policies and guidelines for dealing with autism.
‘Autism was unknown to us even a few years ago for which we use to wrongly consider autism as a mental illness, in fact autistic children are differently abled,’ he said.
Zahid said that Bangladesh government was working to protect the rights of the country’s 18 lakh autistic children.
Health Services director general Abul Kalam Azad said the study identified some of the risks factors for the health services to address.
BSMMU vice-chancellor Kanak Kanti Barua said that the government should formulate the policy to address the risk factors for the prevention of autism.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country