Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 394–404

Urbanicity and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Authors

    • Research Unit of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryAalborg University Hospital
    • Regional Centre for Child and Adolescent PsychiatryAarhus University Hospital
  • Aske Astrup
    • Section for Biostatistics, Department of Public HealthUniversity of Aarhus
  • Carsten Bøcker Pedersen
    • Faculty of Social Sciences, The National Centre for Register-Based ResearchUniversity of Aarhus
  • Carsten Obel
    • Department of General PracticeUniversity of Aarhus
  • Diana E. Schendel
    • Centers for Disease Control and PreventionNational Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
  • Laura Schieve
    • Centers for Disease Control and PreventionNational Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
  • Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp
    • Centers for Disease Control and PreventionNational Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
  • Erik T. Parner
    • Section for Biostatistics, Department of Public HealthUniversity of Aarhus
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10803-013-1875-y

Cite this article as:
Lauritsen, M.B., Astrup, A., Pedersen, C.B. et al. J Autism Dev Disord (2014) 44: 394. doi:10.1007/s10803-013-1875-y

Abstract

The etiology of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is for the majority of cases unknown and more studies of risk factors are needed. Geographic variation in ASD occurrence has been observed, and urban residence has been suggested to serve as a proxy for etiologic and identification factors in ASD. We examined the association between urbanicity level and ASD at birth and during childhood. The study used a Danish register-based cohort of more than 800,000 children of which nearly 4,000 children were diagnosed with ASD. We found a dose–response association with greater level of urbanicity and risk of ASD. This association was found for residence at birth as well as residence during childhood. Further, we found an increased risk of ASD in children who moved to a higher level of urbanicity after birth. Also, earlier age of ASD diagnosis in urban areas was observed. While we could not directly examine the specific reasons behind these associations, our results demonstrating particularly strong associations between ASD diagnosis and post-birth migration suggest the influence of identification-related factors such as access to services might have a substantive role on the ASD differentials we observed.

Keywords

Autism Risk Urbanicity Movement Diagnosis

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013