Abstract
PREVALENCE OF AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW

Sarah Aman, Zubair Hassan Bodla, Mutaish Arif Khan, Yahya Bin Younis, Syed Murtaza Haider, Aaquib Rashid, Abdul Jabbar Dar, Sobia Aamir, Qasim Khurshid, Israr Khan, Muhammad Mirza and Farhan Khalid*

ABSTRACT

Background: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are a group of neurodevelopmental conditions, the prevalence of which in a South Asian country like Pakistan is still not completely known. This study was conducted with the aim to review the available epidemiological studies of ASDs in Pakistan in order to identify gaps in our current knowledge. Materials and Methods: A search for relevant studies was conducted using the key words ―Autism‖ ―Prevalence‖ and ―Pakistan‖, among others, and articles reporting prevalence of ASDs in Pakistan, published between January 2000 and March 2019, were reviewed and evaluated. The search was conducted in line with PRISMA guidelines. Results: Out of the 83 articles found, we identified 6 articles that met our predefined inclusion criteria. The articles reported prevalence of ASDs in Pakistan ranging from 2.4% to 8.6%, showing a trend of increasing prevalence over the years. A high prevalence (8.6%) was reported in Rawalpindi in the study conducted by Khan et al., in 2019. Study sample sizes ranged from 200 in Karachi to 1889 in Rawalpindi. The age range varied between 4 years to 18 years of age. The studies showed a higher prevalence of ASDs in males than in females. Conclusions: In this study, we attempted to methodically review all the available evidence of prevalence surveys of ASDs in Pakistan. An evidence gap is identified in a region where need of availability of services is much needed. In light of the fact that sparse data exists, our conclusion is limited. ASDs are on the rise but multiple barriers in the way of understanding exist. We can only hope this study attracts the attention of organizations interested in health welfare to arrange well planned epidemiological surveys in this region, the results of which can be applied at a larger scale, and promote research regarding ASDs.

Keywords: Autism, Prevalence, Frequency, Pakistan, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder.


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