Epidemiology of autism spectrum disorder in Portugal: prevalence, clinical characterization, and medical conditions

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2007 Oct;49(10):726-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2007.00726.x.


The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and identify its clinical characterization, and medical conditions in a paediatric population in Portugal. A school survey was conducted in elementary schools, targeting 332,808 school-aged children in the mainland and 10,910 in the Azores islands. Referred children were directly assessed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edn), the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised, and the Childhood Autism Rating Scale. Clinical history and a laboratory investigation was performed. In parallel, a systematic multi-source search of children known to have autism was carried out in a restricted region. The global prevalence of ASD per 10,000 was 9.2 in mainland, and 15.6 in the Azores, with intriguing regional differences. A diversity of associated medical conditions was documented in 20%, with an unexpectedly high rate of mitochondrial respiratory chain disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Autistic Disorder / genetics
  • Child
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 15 / genetics
  • Female
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / genetics
  • Gene Deletion
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Karyotyping
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / epidemiology
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / physiopathology
  • Point Mutation / genetics
  • Portugal / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • FMR1 protein, human
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein