Revisiting the Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Omani Children: A multicentre study

Watfa Al-Mamari, Ahmed B. Idris, Samar Dakak, Muna Al-Shekaili, Zuwaina Al-Harthi, Asia M. Alnaamani, Fatma I. Alhinai, Saquib Jalees, Moza Al Hatmi, Mohamed A. El-Naggari, M. Mazharul Islam


Objectives: This study aimed to provide an updated estimate of the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among Omani children. Methods: This retrospective descriptive study was conducted from December 2011 to December 2018. Data were retrieved from the three main autism diagnostic centres in Oman: Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Royal Hospital and Al-Massarah Hospital. The ASD diagnosis was made by experienced clinicians based on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The overall population prevalence estimates per 10,000 children aged 0–14 years old in Oman were calculated using the denominator of the mid-period population data. Results: A total of 1,705 ASD cases were identified with the majority of cases being male (78.1%). The overall prevalence rate of ASD was estimated at 20.35 per 10,000 children (95% confidence interval: 19.39–21.32) between 2012–2018. Boys were found to have a 3.4-fold higher prevalence of ASD than girls (31.23/10,000 versus 9.07/10,000). Regionally, the majority of cases were found in the capital, Muscat, where the highest prevalence was 36.51 cases per 10,000 children. Conclusion: The prevalence of ASD among Omani children is 15-fold higher than estimates from 2011. This increase can be attributed to improvements in diagnostic services, increased awareness of ASD, better screening programmes and changes in diagnostic criteria. In addition, this increase in prevalence suggests a need for a registry of developmental disabilities and more extensive diagnostic and rehabilitation services in Oman.

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder; Epidemiology; Prevalence; Oman.

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

ISSN (Print edition): 2075-051X ISSN (Internet edition): 2075-0528

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