Journal Article

Burden of Autism Spectrum Disorders in North Africa and Middle East from 1990 to 2019: A Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019


  • Meimand
  • S.E.
  • Amiri
  • Z.
  • Shobeiri
  • P.
  • Malekpour
  • M.-R.
  • Saeedi Moghaddam
  • S.
  • Ghanbari
  • A.
  • Tehrani
  • Y.S.
  • Varniab
  • Z.S.
  • Langroudi
  • A.P.
  • Sohrabi
  • H.
  • Mehr
  • E.F.
  • Rezaei
  • N.
  • Moradi-Lakeh
  • M.
  • Mokdad
  • A.H.
  • Larijani
  • B.
Publication Date

Introduction: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) encompass a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect the patient's communication and behavior. There are some reports about the increasing prevalence of ASD in recent decades, mostly due to the improvement in diagnosis and screening status. Few studies suggested a lower prevalence of ASD in North Africa and Middle East compared to more developed regions. The aim of this study is to provide a comprehensive outlook of ASD in the region.

Methods: We used Global Burden of Disease (GBD) data from 1990 to 2019 in North Africa and Middle East, which is one of the seven super regions of the GBD categorization. In this study, we reported the epidemiologic indices, including prevalence, incidence, and years lived with disability (YLDs) for ASD in the 21 countries of the super region. We also compared these indices between the countries based on their sociodemographic index (SDI) which was calculated according to income per capita, mean education, and fertility rate.

Results: Age-standardized prevalence rate (ASPR) of ASD in the region is 304.4 (95% uncertainty interval 251.2–366.1) per 100,000 in 2019 with less than one percentage change since 1990. Age-standardized YLDs and incidence rates were 46.4 (30.4–67.5) and 7.7 (6.3–9.3) per 100,000 in 2019. The ASPR was 2.9 times greater in males compared to females in 2019. The highest age-standardized prevalence, incidence, and YLD rates among the countries were seen in Iran in 2019 (370.3, 9.3, and 56.4 per 100,000, respectively). High SDI countries had higher age-standardized YLDs rates compared to the other countries of the region.

Conclusion: In conclusion, the trends of age-standardized epidemiologic indices remained approximately steady through the years 1990–2019 in the region. Though, there was a wide discrepancy between the countries of the region. The difference of YLDs among the countries of this region is related to the SDI of the countries. Monetary and public awareness status are the SDI factors that may affect the quality of life of ASD patients in the region. This study provides valuable information for governments and health systems to implement policies for maintaining the improving trend, achieving more timely diagnosis, and bettering the supportive actions in this region.

Kiel Institute Expert

Key Words

  • Developmental Delay
  • Developmental Disability
  • Disability-adjusted Life Years
  • Epidemiology

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