Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 120–136 | Cite as

The changing prevalence of autism in three regions of Canada

  • Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz
  • Helen Coo
  • Miu Lam
  • Marlene M. Breitenbach
  • Paula E. Hennessey
  • Paulette D. Jackman
  • M. E. Suzanne Lewis
  • Deborah Dewey
  • François P. Bernier
  • Amy M. Chung
Original Paper


In 2002/2003, the National Epidemiologic Database for the Study of Autism in Canada started capturing information on children diagnosed with autism in different regions of the country. Based on data collected through 2008 in Newfoundland and Labrador and 2010 in Prince Edward Island and Southeastern Ontario, the estimated average annual percent increases in prevalence among children 2–14 years of age ranged from 9.7 % (95 % CI 7.8–11.6) to 14.6 % (95 % CI 11.3–18.0). Differential in-migration and identification of previously undetected cases may have contributed in part to the increases observed, but we cannot rule out the possibility of a true increase in incidence, particularly given the lack of a leveling-off of prevalence among the 6- to 9-year olds.


Autism Surveillance Canada NEDSAC 



We gratefully acknowledge the families and agencies that provided information for the National Epidemiologic Database for the Study of Autism in Canada (NEDSAC). A list of agencies and partners can be viewed on our website at We also wish to thank those individuals who made a substantial contribution to NEDSAC but are not named as authors on this publication: Robert Gauthier and Lori Crews, who worked for the Department of Education when they were NEDSAC Regional Co-Directors in Newfoundland and Labrador; Andrea Noonan, who worked for the Department of Social Services and Seniors when she was a NEDSAC Regional Co-Director in Prince Edward Island; Dr. C.T. Yu, Director of Research at the St. Amant Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba and a Professor of Psychology at the University of Manitoba, who served as the Regional Director of NEDSAC in that province; and Dr. Jeanette Holden, who headed the Autism Spectrum Disorders—Canadian-American Research Consortium and was Principal Investigator on the initial grant that led to the establishment of NEDSAC. Finally, we are grateful to the research assistants who interviewed parents and entered data in NEDSAC over the years. This work was supported by an Interdisciplinary Health Research Team Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (#43820) to the Autism Spectrum Disorders—Canadian-American Research Consortium (ASD-CARC:; Jeanette J.A. Holden, Principal Investigator), and by an Operating Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (#79556) to Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz. The findings and interpretations expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the individuals or agencies that provided data for this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Helen Coo
    • 1
    • 3
  • Miu Lam
    • 1
  • Marlene M. Breitenbach
    • 5
  • Paula E. Hennessey
    • 6
    • 7
  • Paulette D. Jackman
    • 7
  • M. E. Suzanne Lewis
    • 3
    • 8
  • Deborah Dewey
    • 3
    • 9
    • 10
  • François P. Bernier
    • 3
    • 11
  • Amy M. Chung
    • 2
    • 12
  1. 1.Department of Public Health SciencesQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Community Health and EpidemiologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  3. 3.Autism Spectrum Disorders-Canadian American Research Consortium (ASD-CARC)KingstonCanada
  4. 4.Ongwanada Resource CentreKingstonCanada
  5. 5.Department of Education and Early Childhood DevelopmentSummersideCanada
  6. 6.Department of Health and Community ServicesSt. John’sCanada
  7. 7.Department of EducationSt. John’sCanada
  8. 8.Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia and Children’s & Women’s Health Centre of B.C.VancouverCanada
  9. 9.Departments of Pediatrics and Community Health SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  10. 10.Behavioural Research UnitAlberta Children’s HospitalCalgaryCanada
  11. 11.Department of Medical GeneticsUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  12. 12.Department of Molecular GeneticsUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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