Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder in Indian children: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Neurol India. 2019 Jan-Feb;67(1):100-104. doi: 10.4103/0028-3886.253970.


Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability and is of public health importance. It affects not only the child and the family. It also has direct and indirect cost implications on the nation that are incurred in providing health care, support for education, and rehabilitative services. There is a lack of evidence-based estimate of the population prevalence of ASD in India. Therefore, this systematic review was aimed at determining the prevalence of ASD in the Indian population.

Materials and methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the published studies evaluating the prevalence of ASD in the community setting. A search within the published literature was conducted from different databases (PubMed, OvidSP, and EMBASE). The analysis of data was done using STATA MP12 (StataCorp, College Station, TX, USA).

Results: Four studies were included in this systematic review. Of the four included studies, one had studied both urban and rural populations, and the other three had studied the urban populations only. The study from the rural setting showed a pooled percentage prevalence of 0.11 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.01-0.20] in children aged 1-18 years; and, four studies conducted in the urban setting showed a pooled percentage prevalence of 0.09 (95% CI 0.02-0.16) in children aged 0-15 years.

Conclusion: The scarcity of high-quality population-based epidemiological studies on ASD in India highlights an urgent need to study the burden of ASD in India. The proper acquisition of data related to the prevailing burden of ASD in India would lead to a better development of rehabilitative services in our country.

Keywords: Autism; community; prevalence; screening tool.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prevalence