Monday, January 09, 2012

Racial differences in autism

Dr. Charlton asked about data concerning racial differences in autism. I merged the four National Health Interview Surveys from the past decade (sample size = 43,774) which yielded 193 autistic kids. The rate for whites is 4.5 per 1,000. It's 4.1 per 1,000 for blacks. I don't see much of a difference here.

30 comments:

Jason Malloy said...

I feel like there is more to this lurking in the details.

bgc said...

Thanks to both Inductivist and Jason.

I would be almost sure that (on evolutionary grounds) there would be very little Asperger's among Sub-Saharan Africans; so I tend to believe the anecdotal data from Jason rather than the study which Ron unearthed (well done!)

Anonymous said...

I am surprised.

Son of Brock Landers said...

If anyone needs a laugh, check out the anecdotal hogwash throughout the comments section of the "Myth of the Black Aspergian" link. I feel like 'unamused' or 'paul kersey' would destroy the commenters.

Paul Rain said...

There's a followup article here, which doesn't really offer any more convincing evidence. To be quite honest, I would think the discrepancy between diagnosis rates and turning up to autism/aspergers gatherings is better explained as a result of cultural differences in how people see themselves than anything else. You'd be most likely to meet black people with Aspergers or ASD at a 'black aspergers' themed convention, which probably couldn't get critical mass enough to get going. White people just don't identify enough with their ethnic group to self-segregate into insignificant invisible groups in the same manner.

Robert Dole said...

Racial Disparities in Community Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorders Over Time; Metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, 2000–2006

"Total ASD prevalence was higher for NHW (Non-Hispanic White) than NHB (Non-Hispanic Black) children, but NHB children were more likely than NHW children to have autistic disorder and autism eligibility at a public school documented in records. NHB children were less likely than NHW children to have pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified and Asperger's disorder documented in records, even after controlling for socioeconomic status. NHB children were more likely than NHW children to have co-occurring intellectual disability."

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"Childhood Autism in Africa" (1978)

"A further possibility is that certain specific aspects of the syndrome occur less frequently in the African populations"

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Autism, Intellectual Disabilities Related to Parental Age, Education and Ethnicity, Not Income, Utah Study Finds

"They evaluated a variety of demographic factors and found that children with ASD but not ID were significantly more likely to be male and to have mothers of white, non-Hispanic ethnicity."

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At 51:46 of this Google talk James Watson is asked about autism and race.

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