Up to 10,000 Autistic Children Born Every Year

With 1.5 million births in Iran, one in every  70-100 children born is affected by autism.With 1.5 million births in Iran, one in every  70-100 children born is affected by autism.

The incidence of children born with autism spectrum disorder in Iran has increased in the past 10 years.

According to a senior advisor to Health Minister Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi, between 7,000 and 10,000 Iranian children are born with autism every year, IRNA reported.

“These kids are born with autism that is diagnosable early,” Mohammad Taqi Joghataei said.

“With 1.5 million births in Iran, one in every 70-100 children born is affected by autism,” he added.

In other words, autism affects one in every 200-250 children, which is below the global average of one in every 160 births, based on World Health Organization figures.

He said thanks to improved screening processes and changes in the definition of autism, more children are diagnosed with the disorder.

“Health Ministry in collaboration with the State Welfare Organization and Education Ministry has devised a national plan to be piloted in two provinces according to which autistic children in need of special services would be identified.”

The plan particularly targets 30,000 autistic children born in the past five years.

He said early diagnosis is a key objective of the plan. In this regard, all children under the age of five must be screened for autism spectrum disorder. If diagnosed, the children are first referred to a general practitioner. If need be, they will also be examined by a therapist and possibly a psychiatrist.  

Diagnosed children are also offered a specialized health service package which includes comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation services.

“During the screening and diagnosis phase, depending on the province and the population under cover, an amount between 10 billion rials and 20 billion rials ($263 million - $526 million) is allocated for the plan,” Joghataei said.

Based on preliminary estimates, for each autistic child to receive the package around 60-70 million rials ($1,583-$1,847) is needed.

A number of different circumstances can increase the likelihood of a child being born autistic, including pregnancy after age 35, stress, consumption of specific medicine and addictive drugs, and caesarian, he said.

Autism and autism spectrum disorder are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development.

These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.

Autism has its roots in early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 12 and 18 months of age.


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