The DSM-5 contains revised diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from the DSM-IV-TR. Potential impacts of the new criteria on ASD prevalence are unclear.
To assess potential effects of the DSM-5 ASD criteria on ASD prevalence estimation by retrospectively applying the new criteria to population-based surveillance data collected for previous ASD prevalence estimation.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Cross-sectional, population-based ASD surveillance based on clinician review of coded behaviors documented in children’s medical and educational evaluations from 14 geographically defined areas in the United States participating in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network in 2006 and 2008. This study included 8-year-old children living in ADDM Network study areas in 2006 or 2008, including 644 883 children under surveillance, of whom 6577 met surveillance ASD case status based on the DSM-IV-TR.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Proportion of children meeting ADDM Network ASD criteria based on the DSM-IV-TR who also met DSM-5 criteria; overall prevalence of ASD using DSM-5 criteria.
Among the 6577 children classified by the ADDM Network as having ASD based on the DSM-IV-TR, 5339 (81.2%) met DSM-5 ASD criteria. This percentage was similar for boys and girls but higher for those with than without intellectual disability (86.6% and 72.5%, respectively; P < .001). A total of 304 children met DSM-5 ASD criteria but not current ADDM Network ASD case status. Based on these findings, ASD prevalence per 1000 for 2008 would have been 10.0 (95% CI, 9.6-10.3) using DSM-5 criteria compared with the reported prevalence based on DSM-IV-TR criteria of 11.3 (95% CI, 11.0-11.7).
Conclusions and Relevance
Autism spectrum disorder prevalence estimates will likely be lower under DSM-5 than under DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria, although this effect could be tempered by future adaptation of diagnostic practices and documentation of behaviors to fit the new criteria.