Skip to main content

Prevalence of Parent-Reported ASD and ADHD in the UK: Findings from the Millennium Cohort Study

Abstract

The UK prevalence of parent-reported autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were estimated from the Millennium Cohort Study. Case definition was if a doctor or health care professional had ever told parents that their child had ASD and/or ADHD. Data were collected in 2008/2009 for 14,043 children. 1.7 % of children were reported as having ASD (95 % CI 1.4–2.0) at mean age 7.2 years (SD = 0.2; range = 6.3–8.2). 1.4 % reportedly had ADHD (95 % CI 1.2–1.7), and 0.3 % had both ASD and ADHD (95 % CI 0.2–0.5). After adjusting for socio-economic disadvantage, only male sex (p < 0.001 for both conditions) and cognitive ability, p = 0.004 (ASD); p = 0.01 (ADHD) remained strongly associated. The observed prevalence of parent-reported ASD is high compared to earlier UK and US estimates. Parent-reported ADHD is low compared to US estimates using the same measure.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Akinbami, L. J., Liu, X., Pastor, P. N., & Reuben, C. A. (2011). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder among children aged 5–17 years in the United States, 1998–2009. NCHS Data Brief, (70), 1–8.

  2. Alloway, T., Elliott, J., & Holmes, J. (2010). The prevalence of ADHD-like symptoms in a community sample. Journal of Attention Disorders, 14(1), 52–56.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text revision [DSM-IV-TR]).

  4. Baird, G., Simonoff, E., Pickles, A., Chandler, S., Loucas, T., Meldrum, D., et al. (2006). Prevalence of disorders of the autism spectrum in a population cohort of children in South Thames: The Special Needs and Autism Project (SNAP). Lancet, 368(9531), 210–215.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Banerjee, T. D., Middleton, F., & Faraone, S. V. (2007). Environmental risk factors for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Acta Paediatrica, 96(9), 1269–1274. doi:10.1111/j.1651-2227.2007.00430.x.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Baron-Cohen, S., Scott, F. J., Allison, C., Williams, J., Bolton, P., Matthews, F. E., et al. (2009). Prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions: UK school-based population study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 194(6), 500–509. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.108.059345.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bøe, T., Øverland, S., Lundervold, A. J., & Hysing, M. (2012). Socioeconomic status and children’s mental health: Results from the Bergen Child Study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 47(10), 1557–1566. doi:10.1007/s00127-011-0462-9.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Boyle, C. A., Boulet, S., Schieve, L. A., Cohen, R. A., Blumberg, S. J., Yeargin-Allsopp, M., et al. (2011). Trends in the prevalence of developmental disabilities in US children, 1997–2008. Pediatrics, 127(6), 1034–1042.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bracken, B. A. (1999). Psychoeducational assessment of preschool children (3rd ed.). London: Allyn & Bacon.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Brown, R. T., Freeman, W. S., Perrin, J. M., Stein, M. T., Amler, R. W., Feldman, H. M., et al. (2001). Prevalence and assessment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in primary care settings. Pediatrics, 107(3), E43.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Caron, K. G., Schaaf, R. C., Benevides, T. W., & Gal, E. (2012). Cross-cultural comparison of sensory behaviors in children with autism. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy: Official Publication of the American Occupational Therapy Association, 66(5), e77–e80. doi:10.5014/ajot.2012.004226.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Charach, A., Dashti, B., Carson, P., Booker, L., Lim, C. G., Lillie, E., et al. (2011, October). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Text. Retrieved December 21, 2012, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK82368/.

  13. Daniels, J. L., Forssen, U., Hultman, C. M., Cnattingius, S., Savitz, D. A., Feychting, M., et al. (2008). Parental psychiatric disorders associated with autism spectrum disorders in the offspring. Pediatrics, 121(5), e1357–e1362. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-2296.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Faraone, S. V., Sergeant, J., Gillberg, C., & Biederman, J. (2003). The worldwide prevalence of ADHD: Is it an American condition? World Psychiatry, 2(2), 104–113.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Fein, D., Barton, M., Eigsti, I.-M., Kelley, E., Naigles, L., Schultz, R. T., et al. (2013). Optimal outcome in individuals with a history of autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54(2), 195–205.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Fombonne, E. (2001). Is there an epidemic of autism? Pediatrics, 107(2), 411–412. doi:10.1542/peds.107.2.411.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Fombonne, E. (2009). Epidemiology of pervasive developmental disorders. Pediatric Research, 65(6), 591–598.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Ford, T., Goodman, R., & Meltzer, H. (2003). The British Child and Adolescent Mental Health Survey 1999: The prevalence of DSM-IV disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 42(10), 1203–1211.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Fountain, C., King, M. D., & Bearman, P. S. (2011). Age of diagnosis for autism: Individual and community factors across 10 birth cohorts. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 65(6), 503–510. doi:10.1136/jech.2009.104588.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Gardener, H., Spiegelman, D., & Buka, S. L. (2009). Prenatal risk factors for autism: Comprehensive meta-analysis. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 195(1), 7–14.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Gelman, A. (2008). Scaling regression inputs by dividing by two standard deviations. Statistics in Medicine, 27(15), 2865–2873. doi:10.1002/sim.3107.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Gray, D. E. (2002). Ten years on: A longitudinal study of families of children with autism. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 27(3), 215–222. doi:10.1080/1366825021000008639.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Green, H., McGinnity, A., Meltzer, H., Ford, T., & Goodman, R. (2005). Mental health of children and young people in Great Britain, 2004. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Grinker, R. R. (2008). Unstrange minds: Remapping the world of autism. New York, NY: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Grinker, R. R., Chambers, N., Njongwe, N., Lagman, A. E., Guthrie, W., Stronach, S., et al. (2012). “Communities” in community engagement: Lessons learned from autism research in South Korea and South Africa. Autism Research, 5(3), 201–210. doi:10.1002/aur.1229.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Hansen, K., & Joshi, H. (2010). Children of the 21st century: The first five years. London: The Policy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Hjern, A., Weitoft, G., & Lindblad, F. (2010). Social adversity predicts ADHD-medication in school children—A national cohort study. Acta Paediatrica, 99(6), 920–924. doi:10.1111/j.1651-2227.2009.01638.x.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Kieling, C., Kieling, R. R., Rohde, L. A., Frick, P. J., Moffitt, T., Nigg, J. T., et al. (2010). The age at onset of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 167(1), 14–16.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Kogan, M. D., Blumberg, S. J., Schieve, L. A., Boyle, C. A., Perrin, J. M., Ghandour, R. M., et al. (2009). Prevalence of parent-reported diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder among children in the US, 2007. Pediatrics, 124(5), 1395–1403. doi:10.1542/peds.2009-1522.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Laughlin, T. (1995). The school readiness composite of the Bracken Basic Concept Scale as an intellectual screening instrument. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 13(3), 294–302. doi:10.1177/073428299501300308.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Lesesne, C. A., Visser, S. N., & White, C. P. (2003). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in school-aged children: Association with maternal mental health and use of health care resources. Pediatrics, 111(5 Part 2), 1232–1237.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Linnet, K. M., Dalsgaard, S., Obel, C., Wisborg, K., Henriksen, T. B., Rodriguez, A., et al. (2003). Maternal lifestyle factors in pregnancy risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and associated behaviors: Review of the current evidence. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(6), 1028–1040.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Malacrida, C. (2004). Medicalization, ambivalence and social control: Mothers’ descriptions of educators and ADD/ADHD. Health (London, England: 1997), 8(1), 61–80.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. National Center for Health Statistics. (2012). Health, United States, 2011: With special feature on socioeconomic status and health. Hyattsville, MD: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/hus.htm.

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

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Norbury, C. F., & Sparks, A. (2013). Difference or disorder? Cultural issues in understanding neurodevelopmental disorders. Developmental Psychology, 49(1), 45–58. doi:10.1037/a0027446.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Pastor, P. N., & Rueben, C. A. (2008). Diagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning disability: United States, 2004–2006. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Office of Analysis and Epidemiology. Retrieved from Vital and Health Statistics Series 10, no. 237.

  38. Plewis, I. (2007). The Millennium Cohort study: Technical report on sampling. Centre for Longitudinal Studies, London. Retrieved from http://www.esds.ac.uk/doc/5350/mrdoc/pdf/mcs_technical_report_on_sampling_4th_edition.pdf.

  39. Polanczyk, G., de Lima, M., Horta, B., Biederman, J., & Rohde, L. (2007). The worldwide prevalence of ADHD: A systematic review and metaregression analysis. American Journal of Psychiatry, 164(6), 942–948.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Reid, R., Hakendorf, P., & Prosser, B. (2002). Use of psychostimulant medication for ADHD in South Australia. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 41(8), 906–913.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Reiersen, A. M., & Todd, R. D. (2008). Co-occurrence of ADHD and autism spectrum disorders: Phenomenology and treatment. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 8(4), 657–669.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Russell, G., Golding, J., Norwich, B., Emond, A., Ford, T., & Steer, C. (2012). Social and behavioural outcomes in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders: A longitudinal cohort study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 53(7), 735–744.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Russell, P., & Kelly, S. (2011). Looking beyond risk: A study of lay epidemiology of childhood disorders. Health, Risk & Society, 13(2), 129.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Russell, G., Steer, C., & Golding, J. (2011). Social and demographic factors that influence the diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 46(12), 1283–1293. doi:10.1007/s00127-010-0294-z.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Sandin, S., Hultman, C. M., Kolevzon, A., Gross, R., MacCabe, J. H., & Reichenberg, A. (2012). Advancing maternal age is associated with increasing risk for autism: A review and meta-analysis. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 51(5), 477.e1–486.e1. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2012.02.018.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Scahill, L., Schwab-Stone, M., Merikangas, K. R., Leckman, J. F., Zhang, H., & Kasl, S. (1999). Psychosocial and clinical correlates of ADHD in a community sample of school-age children. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 38(8), 976–984. doi:10.1097/00004583-199908000-00013.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Simonoff, E., Pickles, A., Charman, T., Chandler, S., Loucas, T., & Baird, G. (2008). Psychiatric disorders in children with autism spectrum disorders: Prevalence, comorbidity, and associated factors in a population-derived sample. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 47(8), 921–929.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Singh, I. (2011). A disorder of anger and aggression: Children’s perspectives on attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the UK. Social Science and Medicine, 73(6), 889–896. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.03.049.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Taylor, E., & Sandberg, S. (1984). Hyperactive behavior in English schoolchildren: A questionnaire survey. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 12(1), 143–155.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Totsika, V., Hastings, R., Emerson, E., Berridge, D., & Lancaster, G. (2011). Behavior problems at 5 years of age and maternal mental health in autism and intellectual disability. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39(8), 1137–1147.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Turner, L. M., & Stone, W. L. (2007). Variability in outcome for children with an ASD diagnosis at age 2. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48(8), 793–802. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01744.x.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  52. World Health Organization (WHO). (1993). The ICD-10 classification of mental and behavioural disorders: Diagnostic criteria for research. Geneva: World Health Organization.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Zaroff, C. M., & Uhm, S. Y. (2011). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders and influence of country of measurement and ethnicity. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 47(3), 395–398. doi:10.1007/s00127-011-0350-3.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the Millennium Cohort Study families for their time and cooperation, as well as the Millennium Cohort Study team at the Institute of Education, London, UK. We also acknowledge funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for the South West Peninsula. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health in England.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ginny Russell.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Russell, G., Rodgers, L.R., Ukoumunne, O.C. et al. Prevalence of Parent-Reported ASD and ADHD in the UK: Findings from the Millennium Cohort Study. J Autism Dev Disord 44, 31–40 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-013-1849-0

Download citation

Keywords

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism
  • Prevalence
  • Co-morbidity
  • Pervasive developmental disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder