Michael Davidovitch, MD, Gabriela Holtzman, MD and Emanuel Tirosh, MD
Background: Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder. The incidence rate and other related epidemiological characteristics of the Israeli population are not available.
Objectives: To assess the incidence rate of autism in the Haifa area and to compare family characteristics with previous reports from other countries.
Methods: We approached facilities in the Haifa area that are involved with the diagnosis and treatment of autism. The study group comprised children born between 1989 and 1993. Records of the children were scrutinized and 69% of the mothers were interviewed. Live-birth cohorts of the same years were employed for incidence computation.
Results: An incidence rate of 1/1000 was derived. Male to female ratio was 4.2:1. Pregnancy and perinatal periods were mostly uneventful. A low prevalence of developmental and emotional morbidity was reported for family members.
Conclusions: The epidemiological characteristics found in the Haifa area are similar to those reported from non-Israeli communities. This finding supports an underlying biological mechanism for this disorder. These data can be used for future trend analyses in Israel.