Wondering about the countries with lowest autism rates?
As parents, we are especially concerned about conditions that can permanently affect our kids.
We try hard to nourish them, protect them and raise them to be amazing human beings only to later get a diagnosis that knocks us at our core.
Autism is one of those diagnoses that every parent dreads.
We hear about it with increasing frequency. We probably have family or friends with a child diagnosed as autistic. But most of us don’t fully understand autism spectrum disorder.
Surprisingly, the autism rates by country are quite varied.
While it’s true that many countries probably don’t report and document cases of autism like the United States does, and who knows; maybe there are some countries with no autism.
But, it’s still very interesting to see such a wide number of differences in populations around the globe.
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?
Did you know that we diagnose #Autism and Learning Disabilities in students of all ages? If you think your child may have #ASD or an LD, check out this article “What is autism spectrum disorder?” https://t.co/m6T2djfNo5 pic.twitter.com/EcKRXtRb3C
— JVS Toronto (@JVSToronto) October 12, 2018
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
- 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 in a highly shared post I published earlier.
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.
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
- 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 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
- 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.
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It also contains probiotics which may also play a crucial role in the prevention of autism.
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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.
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.
— Spectrum (@Spectrum) April 14, 2017
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.
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 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.
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: