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Systematic Review

Vol. 12 No. 2 (2009)

Prevalence and Interpretation of Recent Trends in Rates of Pervasive Developmental Disorders

  • Eric Fombonne
  • Sara Quirke
  • Arlene Hagen
August 11, 2020


The aims of this article are to provide an up-to-date review of the methodological features and substantive results of published epidemiological surveys of the prevalence of pervasive developmental disorders (PDD). This article updates previous reviews (1, 2) with the inclusion of new studies made available since then. The specific questions addressed inthis article are: a) how are cases of PDD defined and identified in epidemiological surveys?; b) what are the best estimates for the prevalence of autism and related pervasive developmental disorders considering the methodological implications of the surveys, and c) what interpretation can be given to time trends observed in prevalence rates of PDDs given the hypothesized secular increase in PDDs?


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