15 Countries with Lowest Autism Rates That May Surprise You


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Autism is one of those diagnoses that every parent dreads. But even though I know it’s on the rise in the US, I wondered about the countries with the lowest autism rates and autism rates by country were and what we might be able to learn from that.

I decided to research it, and here’s what I found out.

Poland has the absolute lowest rate of autism in the world, followed closely by Taiwan. The next countries with low autism rates, while having significantly higher rates than those 2, include China, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. In the US, the rate of autism is 1 in 59, which ranks as #16 worldwide.

Surprisingly, the autism rates by country are quite varied. While you can see the entire list at the bottom of this article, we’ll also be exploring how well different countries report instances of autism, and we’ll hear from experts that interpret the data and statistics. 

We don’t have all the answers by any means, but we do know the questions. And this post is steering clear of conspiracy theories and just focusing on facts.

So today, we’ll be reviewing the countries with lowest autism rates to see if there are any correlations that could help shed some light on this epidemic.

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What is autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a wide spectrum of symptoms and behavior patterns.

While it is a worldwide epidemic, it certainly hits some countries harder than others. Thus, we’re reviewing the countries with lowest autism rates.

Often parents and teachers will notice some, but not likely all, of the following symptoms:

  • inability to read social cues
  • OCD
  • sensory issues (often noted by covering their ears)
  • repetitive motor behaviors (such as hand flapping)
  • repeat behaviors
  • struggles with speech
  • being almost completely non-verbal

While many people on the autism spectrum do posses outstanding learning and comprehension skills, over 50% of autistic people have an IQ of under 70. An I.Q between 90 and 110 is considered average.

30% of autistic children are considered non-verbal, meaning they speak very little or in some cases not at all.

About 20% of children on the autism spectrum also have epilepsy.

What is the current autism rate?

In the United States, according to the CDC, 1 in 59 children is on the autism spectrum as of a 2006 survey.

More recent studies indicate a rate of 1 in 45. But in some of the countries with lowest autism rates, that number can be as low as 1 in 3,333 (Poland).

Across the globe, the World Health Organization puts that figure at 1 in 160. The CDC has also seen a 15% increase in autism spectrum disorder diagnosis over the past 2 years.

Since 2004, they have found an incredible 181% increase through 2018.

Check out even more shocking Autism Statistics Worldwide (click to read on my site) in a highly shared post I published earlier.

Is autism on the rise worldwide?

Yes is the short answer.

It’s worth noting that researchers haven’t been tracking autism for decades. In fact, serious tracking didn’t start until 2000. It’s also worth noting that unlike many other conditions, there isn’t a blood test or scan that can detect autism. So we are relying 100% on doctors and researchers to objectively agree on criteria and diagnose in a consistent manner.

That is to say, it’s probably not very consistent compared to tracking of other diseases and conditions.

That being said, it’s undeniable that autism IS on the rise. The World Health Organization puts the autism rates by country at 1 in 160. The CDC has noted a 15% increase in autism spectrum disorder diagnosis over the past 2 years and a whopping 181% increase from 2004 to 2018.

How many children in the world have autism?

Going back to the CDC, between 1-2% of the world’s population is on the autism spectrum.

With about 7.5 billion people on the planet, that would have between 75 million and 150 million people being on the autism spectrum.

Since about 26% of the world’s population is age 15 and under, that would mean between 20 and 40 million kids with autism in the world.

What country has highest rate of autism?

Hong Kong has the highest rate of autism, coming in at a shocking rate of 1 in 27 people!

Of course, it’s worth repeating that not every country reports autism the same way as others, and there could be a margin of error in comparing the results of 2 different countries.

That being said, it’s undeniable that Hong Kong is the leader in autism rates, since the country with the best rate, Poland, has a rate of 1 in 3,333 people, a 123.5% difference!

Can you prevent autism?

There is not a cure for autism.

That being said, there are a lot of opinions on the causes of autism and ways of prevention.

Autism.com states that “one of the best things (an expectant mother) can do is give herself six months or even a year to improve her diet and make better lifestyle choices (before becoming pregnant).

She should consume organically grown grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and lean sources of protein.

Laying the foundation by putting herself in optimal shape prior to conceiving will go a long way in minimizing the chance of miscarriage, or developing other complications of pregnancy and delivery.”

They go on to say that “reducing or eliminating the white foods (sugar, white bread, pasta, pizza, bagels), chemical preservatives and processed foods” may help prevent autism.

Lastly, they also recommend improving the gut bacteria which I get into more below.

What is the best therapy for autism?

Brian Udell, MD, is the director of the Child Development Center of America.

He claims that autism is often accompanied by gastrointestinal conditions.

People on the autism spectrum disorder often have:

  • chronic diarrhea
  • abdominal discomfort
  • bloating
  • other nutritional issues
  • food allergies

There is currently no cure for autism or specifically recommended treatment.

However, removing specific food items from the diet and ensuring healthy gut bacteria have been shown to improve the symptoms of autism.

A recent study published by the National Institutes of Health found that a gluten-free diet was effective “in reducing some autism symptoms, and 2 groups of investigators also reported improvement in nonverbal cognition.”

Other parents have tried removing highly allergic food items such as eggs, fish, nuts, dairy, and soy. The best strategy is to eliminate all items in question from the diet.

Then slowly reintroduce them 1 at a time to see the effects.

Healthy eating for all children (click to read my BEST tips) is essential, but this is even more true for kids with autism.

Going back to Brian Udell, MD, he recommends avoiding:

  • heavily processed foods
  • fast food
  • artificial colors and flavors
  • preservatives
  • hormones & antibiotics in meat and dairy

He also recommends omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and a probiotic with 1.5 to 4 billion bacterial parts to improve gastrointestinal health.

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The crucial role Vitamin D deficiency might play with autism

Yet another recent study published by the National Institutes of Health found a link between autism and deficiency in Vitamin D.

They found that “Neonatal (ie: newborns) vitamin D status was significantly associated with the risk of ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and intellectual disability.”

Therefore it stands to reason that both a prenatal vitamin for pregnant women as well as a vitamin D supplement for children might be a good idea. Always check with your doctor first though.

Mama Bird Prenatal Multivitamin (click to see current prices on Amazon Prime) is the best-selling prenatal on Amazon Prime.

It’s an Amazon Choice product with almost 5 stars and over 1000 reviews, so you know this vegan, organic herbal multivitamin blend is outstanding. 1 tablet contains 67% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D.

It also contains probiotics which may also play a crucial role in the prevention of autism.

For babies themselves, Amazon Prime has an amazing product with almost 5 stars and well over 1600 reviews called Baby Ddrops Liquid Vitamin D3 (click to see current prices on Amazon).

It’s “tasteless, no chemicals, no additives artificial flavors or colors” and “free from Wheat, gluten, soy, corn, sugar, milk, and peanut”. While it’s designed for breastfed babies (it dispenses 1 drop onto the nipple when the baby is ready to feed), you can also dispense the drop into a bottle as well.

Free shipping on that one too!

So now let’s review the . . . 

15 Countries with Lowest Autism Rates That May Surprise You

For the purposes of this list and also based on the countries that provide data, this list of countries with lowest autism rates may be leaving out some 3rd world countries which don’t have accurate means of reporting.

See bottom of the page for credits on data on these autism rates by country.

1. Poland – 1 child for every 3,333

2. Taiwan – 1 child for every 2,000

3. China – 1 child for every 435

4. Germany – 1 child for every 263

5. Netherlands – 1 child for every 208

6. Norway – 1 child for every 196

7. Finland – 1 child for every 185

8. Estonia – 1 child for every 167

9. Belgium – 1 child for every 167

10. Singapore – 1 child for every 149

11. Denmark – 1 child for every 145

12. Canada – 1 child for every 94

13. Switzerland – 1 child for every 69

14. Ireland – 1 child for every 65

15. Japan – 1 child for every 55

The United States would have come in #16 (1 in 45) on this list of countries with lowest autism rates had we gone that high.

It’s also interesting to note that not only did South Korea not make the list of countries with lowest autism rates, but, in fact, has one of the highest rates of autism in the world, despite it being highly stigmatized there.

Also interesting is that while China as a whole has a low rate of autism, Hong Kong, arguably the most developed and western city in China, has the highest rate of autism in the world.

While Poland is certainly much lower than many, there probably aren’t any countries with no autism.

What are the immediate takeaways from this list of countries with lowest autism rates?

  • Asian countries dominate the list
  • Northern European countries also dominate the list
  • Generally speaking, the more developed a country, the higher the rate of autism (which could also be tied to better reporting)
  • For conspiracy buffs, it’s interesting to note that Poland, the country with the lowest rates of autism, does, in fact, have mandatory vaccinations
  • That being said, Poland only mandates 11 vaccines, spread out over 20 shots from birth through 7 months of age
  • Compare that the CDCs recommended 15 vaccines in the US spread out over 20 shots from birth through 6 months
  • From a dietary standpoint, it’s interesting to note that the typical Polish meals are spread out over 5 meals instead of 3 with the largest meal (what they call dinner) being around 2pm
  • Europe and parts of Asia also take a much stronger stance against the use of added growth hormones in meat and dairy than The US
  • There are not any countries with no autism

But in the end, there is not conclusive evidence thus far on exactly why some countries have significantly lower rates of autism than others.

Sensational Brain (click to learn more on their site) is an outstanding resource for parents, educators, and children.

They provide both free and paid tools to help kids with sensory processing disorders including autism as well as ADHD and other conditions.

Were you surprised with the countries with lowest autism rates?

In this post, we took a deep look into the world of autism.

We looked at what autism spectrum disorder is. We looked at autism rates by country and how they have increased and we also touched on some therapies designed to help support children diagnosed with autism.

Specifically, though, we looked at the countries with lowest autism rates, and autism rates by country, and we avoided conspiracy theories and stuck to proven data.

In the world of autism, we are far from having all the answers, but we can certainly ask the questions and have all the data and facts can help us to ask better questions.

I am not a parent of autistic kids but my wife is a teacher who specializes in working with autistic kids and in my 9 to 5 working with kids, I do see a number of kids on the autism spectrum.

Thus, while not a complete expert, I am closely connected to that world.

Ready to dive in deeper? Check out all the Autism Statistics Worldwide (click to read on my site).

Middle Class Dad countries with lowest autism rates bio

I am not a doctor or a health professional. This post, like all my posts, is based on my research, opinions, and observations. If you need medical or professional advice you should seek out a qualified professional in your area.
Data sources for top 15 autism rates by country data:
1. Poland
2. Taiwan
3. China
4. Germany
5. Netherlands
6. Norway
7. Finland
8. Estonia
9. Belgium
10. Singapore
11. Denmark
12. Canada
13. Switzerland
14. Ireland
15. Japan

 


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Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

15 thoughts on “15 Countries with Lowest Autism Rates That May Surprise You

  1. I try not to comment on things online to trigger me but I feel I have to here. I have autism. I cannot believe some of these comments I read here. I think the vaccines cause autism conspiracy is completely nonsense, and I cannot believe some people still believe this. I am very pro-vaccine but regardless of that and I don’t want to argue with anyone about vaccines, it is so disheartening to hear people say that autism shouldn’t exist or it is better to get infectious diseases than to get autism. Saw in a previous comment about “Ending the Autism Epidemic”? It sickens me this stuff is out there.

    Autism is not a death sentence. It is not a horrible thing to have, at least not for everyone who has it. If nothing else I encourage everyone to read stories and content written by actual autistic people and expose themselves to see that an autism diagnosis is not like a cancer diagnosis. Autism does make life hard for me but I don’t wish I wasn’t autistic, I am perfectly fine being who I am.

    1. Hi Amy

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I understand both sides of the argument and ultimately no matter which side we’re on, we all want the same thing; to do the right things for our kids. But it’s especially nice to hear from someone living with autism and feeling good about who you are.

      For many parents trying to decide to vaccinate or not, it’s like being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

      Polio can be deadly. My best friend growing up, the late Gary Guthrie, had polio and was confined to a wheelchair. But some of the known ingredients in vaccines (which you can read about on the CDC website HERE) are scary too as are the tens of thousands of vaccine injuries reported on the government’s Vaccine Injury website.

      Most people just want to do right by their kids, and that looks different to different people, but we should never forget that is the underlying motive for almost everyone on both sides of the issue.

      The other thing people have lost sight of in this day and age (not just on this issue, but a host of others (especially politics) is that it’s totally OK for someone to have a different opinion on an issue from me. That doesn’t mean I’m right and they’re wrong or vice versa. And just because someone has a different opinion from me doesn’t mean they are a bad person.

      Anyway, sorry for the soapbox. Thanks for being here and sharing your thoughts!

      Jeff

  2. I’m so appalled by your post on autism as I have 3 autistic son’s and have lived the autistic life for 25 yrs. I take autism awareness very seriously and I won’t post nothing unless I have the full facts.I’m aware that not all countries will publish there facts but be aware the who are currupt and the vaccination of children has a huge impact. The mercury that’s in vaccines and mmr and nondisclosure. I’m happy to debate with you and show you my research which will be published shortly.

    1. Hi Brian

      I do appreciate comments, even argumentative ones such as yours. My article is a statistics post and not an opinion post (I would not post an opinion-based article on autism as while I do have some experience in working with autistic kids I do not consider myself an expert).

      As I stated to John who also commented on this article, “this article was not an opinion piece; I compiled facts from reputable sources such as the CDC, WHO, and Austism.org and did not really offer much of my opinion so I don’t think it’s really a valid argument to say I’m not qualified to write an article listing statistics. I did my research and while I’m as capable as you of making a mistake, I do feel like the facts reported in my piece are accurate.”

      And EVERY source I used in my article is noted, so no need to question where I’m getting my facts. If you don’t agree with the CDC or the WHO, I don’t have an issue with that, but you should take your beef to them.

      I welcome your comments and points of view but honestly, I just listed facts so debate is not necessary. I’m certainly sympathetic to your situation and I’m sure as a father of 3 sons you are desperate for answers to questions that often are confusing and unclear, and your patience is low and frustration is high.

      I’m also well aware of the debate on both sides of the vaccine controversy, but my article was not designed to support either side of those conspiracy theories (which is not to say I disagree with you). But I did also make clear at the start of my article that “this post is steering clear of conspiracy theories and just focusing on facts.”

      Certainly, if you have sources or evidence to show that any of the facts I noted are incorrect, I’d love to see them. If you do indeed publish some fact-based research, feel free to comment again and link to it here.

      Again, I’m very sorry you have such a personal connection to autism as I can only imagine how that increases the challenges of parenting.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Jeff

      1. I apologise if I have come across as rude but autism is my life and saving autistic children. It’s very personal to me but I’m happy to share information with you.but please before you publish what you believe to be real.look up independent reports and not government whitewash information. In England we have now have 30% of under 2 yrs old parents refusing vaccines. We are not forced as the usa will be under the legal issues of health care. But once again I apologise for my brashness

        1. Hi Brian

          No worries and I appreciate your response.

          I can’t imagine the challenges you face and for what it’s worth, I don’t vaccinate my 3 daughters out of very real concerns over the ingredients in vaccines which can also be verified at least in my country on the CDC website.

          Ultimately since my site isn’t geared towards controversial topics when I compiled the post I was trying to steer clear of debate and just present the facts that I found.

          Being a Libertarian personally, I always have a healthy skepticism of government, but at the time I wrote the article since I was mostly focused on data and used several different sources, I didn’t feel like I was presenting anything inaccurate other than knowing that different countries were reporting differently (or under-reporting).

          Please feel free to link up additional information you think might be helpful as ultimately my entire site is designed to be helpful and provide well-rounded information.

          Thanks again for this response, I really appreciate it.

          Cheers, Jeff

  3. Maybe those countries with the ‘lowest’ rates of autism aren’t very good at diagnosing and reporting the condition. As you state, you are not an expert. Perhaps you should refrain from publishing misinformation about autism and keep your opinions to yourself.

    1. Hi John

      I welcome all comments here including those from people who don’t agree with me, so I do appreciate your comment.

      I did state in my post “it’s worth repeating that not every country reports autism the same way as others, and there could be a margin of error in comparing the results of 2 different countries.” which basically echoes what you’re saying, so I did feel like I covered that, but perhaps I could make it more clear.

      Ultimately though, this article was not an opinion piece; I compiled facts from reputable sources such as the CDC, WHO, and Austism.org and did not really offer much of my opinion so I don’t think it’s really a valid argument to say I’m not qualified to write an article listing statistics. I did my research and while I’m as capable as you of making a mistake, I do feel like the facts reported in my piece are accurate.

      I also understand the world of autism is complicated and contentious as my wife is a teacher who works with autistic kids and in my day job, I work with a number of kids as well who are on the spectrum.

      I know there are a lot of concerns, unanswered questions, conspiracy theories, and personal attacks on different beliefs.

      If you’re a parent of a child with autism, which is my assumption, I would love to hear your opinion on what has worked to improve conditions and what hasn’t whether that’s dietary, with ABA or Occupational therapy, or anything else.

      And if you think one of the facts I reported is incorrect, I’d love to know which one so I can double check it.

      Thanks again for being here.

      Jeff

  4. If there isn’t a country that doesn’t have autism. And every country vaccinates. And we inject toxins from vaccines into an infants body, and sometimes a pregnant woman as well. I think it is safe to say that vaccines cause autism. It is not safe to inject aluminum, concentrated proteins, formaldehyde, MSG…many other toxins into a two month old baby. While infants are undergoing rapid neurological developments in there first 5 years of life! We need to leave our innate intelligence of our immune systems alone! We as humans have an amazing immune system. Let it do it its job naturally. We have good health care, and amazing science to treat viruses. The risk of a life long Autism, ADD, ADHD, does out way the risk of Measles, Mumps, Polio etc.. We as a humans need to question our doctors, our government, and the WHO on the safety of Vaccines. The Saftey studies on vaccines aren’t there. I recommend a fantastic book for everyone to read! How to End the Autism Epidemic, by J.B. Handley. It is a must read!!

    1. Hi Germaine

      I certainly agree that man-made drugs have a lot of risks and in many (not all) cases, those risks often outweigh the supposed benefit. I think it’s also clear if you look at the huge rise in behavioral and health issues (autism, food allergies, diabetes, etc) over the past few decades that we, as a people, are obviously doing something damaging to ourselves that is causing the huge increase.

      I don’t have the answers, and I’m not sure anyone does, but I certainly agree that when we inform ourselves and pay attention, we should naturally question what western medicine is directing us to do as it seems clear that at least certain segments of western medicine aren’t interested in curing anything and just want to create lifetime customers.

      Thanks for the insightful comments!

      Jeff

    2. It’s been proven, multiple times over. That vaccines don’t cause autism. As a matter of fact with new brain scanning and imagine technology they can see that it is usually determine before the 3rd trimester (whether it be genetically or environmentally)

      Also look into the duplication and deletion brain scans (again something determined well before birth) which shows the main 2 types of autistic brains. Whether the gene deletes part of the code, causing a brain overgrowth (tends to have speech issues and social issues but higher functioning/aspbergers) vs duplication (brain undergrowth, behavioral)

      . A good part of the vaccination confusion is that high titters (rubella titers to be exact) is associated with autism. Now that being said, they did a trial on over 1000 children from vaccination to not and it showed that, yes high titers was associated with autism regardless of if they were vaccinated or not. Further more, if vaccines caused autism, there would be more than 2% of the population with autism.

      Tylenol has started to pop up as an marker, but agin this is pregnant women taking a lot of it.

      Autism has been around for many years, it’s just now we are aware of what it is. Is it hard to deal with… yes. But great examples to look at that aren’t vaccine related are “the autism family”, they didn’t vaccinate… they had 4 autistic children. People also don’t correlate that your body carries alleles. Similar in such determination on whether or not somebody is born a Psychopath.., if both parents are carriers, changes of having a child with the disorder go up as well.

      Further more, not vaccine related… it’s also proven that if you have an autistic child 1st, you have a 40% change of having another. Many families (whether vaccinated or not) who have 3 children, 2 or all 3 will have autism.

  5. I just interviewed a researcher from Duke for my podcast (Happy Healthy Family) He led a team doing a critical review into Tylenol. They found astonishing links between acetaminophen use and autism. Incidentally you mentioned S Korea had one of the highest rates of autism. They also had an issue where the manufacturer of Tylenol put too much active ingredient in each dose. Kids were getting doses far too big. The team that researched this believe that the vaccine autism link may be more related to the acetaminophen that is given after vaccinations. Something to think about.

    1. Hi Dave

      Thanks for commenting! That’s really interesting and I hadn’t heard about that study. If you have a link to it, I’d love to take a look, but I’ll certainly Google it as well. Certainly, its obvious that the huge spike in autism is the result of something we are doing as a people. I get that reporting has improved, but the prevalence of it today compared to when I was a kid makes it obvious that something we are doing is increasing the frequency. I look forward to reading it.

      Thanks for being here!

      Jeff

    2. Every man made drug and chemical has a side effect! Drugs are not safe, especially when you take them with other toxins, such as vaccines! I’m sure the researcher from Duke is on to something here.

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