Skip to main content
Log in

Brief Report: Prevalence of Pervasive Developmental Disorder in Brazil: A Pilot Study

  • Brief Report
  • Published:
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders Aims and scope Submit manuscript


This pilot study presents preliminary results concerning the prevalence of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) in South America. It was a three-phase study conducted in a typical town in Southeast Brazil. Case definition was based in a combination of standardized instruments and clinical evaluations by experts. The prevalence of PDD was 27.2/10,000 (95% CI: 17.6–36.8) and some hypotheses were raised to explain this low frequency. Clinical findings of PDD cases were consistent with previous data, such as, male preponderance, more children diagnosed with PDD-NOS than with autistic disorder, and half of them born from older mothers. Moreover, the study raised concerns about treatment of cases, because identification of PDD had been late and access to services has been very limited.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.


  • Alonso, J., Buron, A., Bruffaerts, R., He, Y., Posada-Villa, J., Lepine, J. P., et al. (2008). Association of perceived stigma and mood and anxiety disorders: Results from the world mental health surveys. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 118, 305–314.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Alonso, J., Buron, A., Rojas-Farreras, S., de Graaf, R., Haro, J. M., de Girolamo, G., et al. (2009). Perceived stigma among individuals with common mental disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders, 118, 180–186.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ambrosini, P. J. (2000). Historical development and present status of the schedule for affective disorders and schizophrenia for school-age children (K-SADS). Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 39, 49–58.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

    Google Scholar 

  • Atladóttir, H. O., Parner, E. T., Schendel, D., Dalsgaard, S., Thomsen, P. H., & Thorsen, P. (2007). Time trends in reported diagnoses of childhood neuropsychiatric disorders: A Danish cohort study. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 161, 193–198.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Berument, S., Rutter, M., Lord, C., Pickles, A., & Bailey, A. (1999). Autism Screening Questionnaire: Diagnostic Validity. British Journal of Psychiatry, 175, 444–451.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Brohan, E., Gauci, D., Sartorius, N., Thornicroft G., & the GAMIAN–Europe Study Group. (2010). Self-stigma, empowerment and perceived discrimination among people with bipolar disorder or depression in 13 european countries: The GAMIAN-Europe study. Journal of Affective Disorders, in press. Epub ahead of print. Retrieved January 15, 2-011, from

  • Center for Disease Control. (2009). Prevalence of autism spectrum Disorders—Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring network, United States, 2006. MMWR Surveillance Summary, 58, 1–14.

    Google Scholar 

  • Croen, L. A., Grether, J. K., & Selvin, S. (2002). Descriptive epidemiology of autism in a California population: Who is at risk? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32, 217–224.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • De Giacomo, A., & Fombonne, E. (1998). Parental recognition of developmental abnormalities in autism. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 7, 131–136.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Elsabbagh, M., Divan, G., Yun-Joo, Kim, Y.S., Kauchali, S., Marcín C., et al. (in press). Epidemiology and Clinical Characterization of Autism and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders across the World: Evidence, opportunities, and challenges. International Journal of Epidemiology.

  • Fombonne, E. (2006). Past and future perspectives on autism epidemiology. In S. O. Moldin & J. L. R. Rubenstein (Eds.), Understanding Autism: from basic to treatment (pp. 25–45). Florida, USA: RCR Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Fombonne, E. (2009a). Epidemiology of pervasive developmental disorders. Pediatric Research, 65, 591–598.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Fombonne, E. (2009b). A wrinkle in time: From early signs to a diagnosis of autism. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 48(5), 463–464.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fombonne, E., Quirke, S., & Hagen, A. (in press) Epidemiology of pervasive developmental disorders. In: D. G. Amaral, G. Dawson, & D.H. Geschwind (Eds.), Autism Spectrum Disorders United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

  • Fundação Sistema Estadual de Análise de Dados (n.d.). Retrieved January 8, 2010, from

  • Gillberg, C., Billstedt, E., Sundh, V., & Gillberg, I. C. (2010). Mortality in autism: A prospective longitudinal community-based study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40, 352–357.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Goodman, R. (1997). The strengths and difficulties questionnaire: A research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, 581–586.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Human Developmental Report (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2011, from

  • Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (n.d.). Retrieved January 20, 2010, from

  • Jonhson, C. P., Myers, S. M., & American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Children with Disabilities. (2007). Identification and evaluation of children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics, 120, 1183–1215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Knapp, M., Funk, M., Curran, C., Prince, M., Grigg, M., & McDaid, D. (2006). Economic barriers to better mental health practice and policy. Health Policy and Planning, 21, 157–170.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kolevzon, A., Gross, R., & Reichenberg, A. (2007). Prenatal and perinatal risk factors for autism: A review and integration of findings. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 161, 326–333.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lei de Diretrizes e Bases, 10172, B.R. (2011). Retrieved January 15, 2011, from

  • Lejarraga, H., Menendez, A. M., Menzano, E., Guerra, L., Biancato, S. S., Pianelli, P., et al. (2008). Screening for developmental problems at primary care level: A field programme in San Isidro, Argentina. Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 22, 180–187.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Liptak, G. S., Benzoni, L. B., Mruzek, D. W., Nolan, K. W., Thingvoll, M. A., Wade, C. M., et al. (2008). Disparities in diagnosis and access to health services for children with autism: Data from the National Survey of Children’s Health. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 29, 152–160.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lord, C., Rutter, M., & Le Couteur, A. (1994). Autism diagnostic interview-revised: A revised version of a diagnostic interview for caregivers of individuals with possible pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders, 24, 659–685.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Montiel-Nava, C., & Peña, J. A. (2008). Epidemiological findings of pervasive developmental disorders in a Venezuelan study. Autism, 12, 191–212.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Mouridsen, S. E., Brønnum-Hansen, H., Rich, B., & Isager, T. (2008). Mortality and causes of death in autism spectrum disorders: An update. Autism, 12, 403–414.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Newschaffer, C. J., Croen, L. A., Daniels, J., Giarelli, E., Grether, J. K., & Levy, S. E. (2007). The epidemiology of autism spectrum disorders. Annual Reviews of Public Health, 28, 235–258.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Palmer, R. F., Walker, T., Mandell, D., Bayles, B., & Miller, C. S. (2010). Explaining low rates of autism among Hispanic schoolchildren in Texas. American Journal of Public Health, 100, 270–272.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Parner, E. T., Schendel, D. E., & Thorsen, P. (2008). Autism prevalence trends over time in denmark changes in prevalence and age at diagnosis. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 162, 1150–1156.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Peluso, E., & Blay, S.L. (2010). Public stigma and schizophrenia in São Paulo city. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, in press. Epud ahead of print. Retrieved on January 18, 2011, from

  • Sato, F. P., Paula, C. S., Lowenthal, R., Nakano, E. Y., Brunoni, D., Schwartzman, J. S., et al. (2009). Instrument to screen cases of pervasive developmental disorder: A preliminary indication of validity. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, 31, 30–33.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Shattuck, P., Durkin, M., Maenner, M., Newschaffer, C., Mandell, D., Wiggins, L., et al. (2009). The timing of identification among children with an autism spectrum disorder: Findings from a population-based surveillance study. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 48, 474–483.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sistema de Informação da Atenção Básica (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2010, from

  • Teixeira, M. C., Meca, T., Velloso, R., Ribeiro, S. H., Mercadante, M. T., & Paula, C. S. (2010). Brazilian scientific production about Autism Spectrum Disorders. Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira, 56, 1–8.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


This study was financially supported by the Mackpesquisa, Mackenzie Presbyterian University, São Paulo-SP, Brazil. We are grateful to all study participants and professionals from the Atibaia’s health and educational public services.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Cristiane S. Paula.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Paula, C.S., Ribeiro, S.H., Fombonne, E. et al. Brief Report: Prevalence of Pervasive Developmental Disorder in Brazil: A Pilot Study. J Autism Dev Disord 41, 1738–1742 (2011).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: