Association between parental nativity and autism spectrum disorder among US-born non-Hispanic white and Hispanic children, 2007 National Survey of Children's Health

Laura A Schieve, Sheree L Boulet, Stephen J Blumberg, Michael D Kogan, Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, Coleen A Boyle, Susanna N Visser, Catherine Rice
Disability and Health Journal 2012, 5 (1): 18-25

BACKGROUND: Limited studies suggest the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) varies by whether maternal and child birth country are discordant.

OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS: We explored associations between ASD and maternal and paternal nativity in a sample of US-born non-Hispanic white (NHW, n = 37,265) and US-born Hispanic (n = 4,690) children in the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH).

METHODS: We assessed ASD prevalence within race-ethnicity and parental nativity subgroups. Prevalence ratios (aPR), comparing each group to NHW children with 2 US-born parents, were adjusted for child age, sex, and receipt of care in a medical home. Estimates were weighted to reflect US noninstitutionalized children. Standard errors were adjusted to account for the complex sample design.

RESULTS: In NHW children with 2 US-born parents, ASD prevalence was 1.19%; estimates were similar for NHW children with a foreign-born mother or father. There was a striking heterogeneity between Hispanic children with 2 US-born versus 2 foreign-born parents (ASD prevalence 2.39% versus 0.31%, p = .05). Even after adjustment, PRs comparing ASD prevalence in Hispanic versus NHW children were vastly different for Hispanic subgroups, suggesting a substantially lower prevalence for Hispanic children with both parents foreign-born (aPR 0.2, 95% confidence interval 0.1-0.5) and a higher prevalence for Hispanic children with both parents US-born (aPR 2.0 [0.8-4.6]).

CONCLUSIONS: Previous studies comparing ASD prevalence between NHW and Hispanic children based on a composite Hispanic grouping without consideration of parental nativity likely missed important differences between these racial-ethnic groups. Continuing efforts toward improving early identification in Hispanic children are needed.

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