Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 9, pp 3611–3624 | Cite as

Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder According to Maternal-Race Ethnicity and Country of Birth: A Register-Based Study

  • Ifrah Abdullahi
  • Kingsley Wong
  • Keely Bebbington
  • Raewyn Mutch
  • Nicholas de Klerk
  • Sarah Cherian
  • Jenny Downs
  • Helen Leonard
  • Emma J. GlassonEmail author
Original Paper


An increased prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children of immigrant backgrounds has been observed but clinical profiles are rarely compared. Diagnostic data from children with ASD notified to the Western Australian Register for Autism Spectrum Disorders were analysed according to maternal-race ethnicity and country of birth. A total of 4776 children aged between 0 and 18 years diagnosed with ASD from 1999 to 2017 were included. Those born to immigrant mothers from lower income countries were younger at the time of diagnosis, had an increased risk of intellectual disability and poorer presentations in the social and communication domains. Further work is required to understand environmental influences that may affect children born to immigrant mothers and to improve monitoring and assessments.


Autism spectrum disorder Intellectual disability Symptomatology Severity Immigrant 



The authors would like to acknowledge the Advisory Committee of the WA Register for Autism Spectrum Disorders, as well as the diagnosticians and participants who contributed data to the Register over a long time period. This research was undertaken while the first author (IA) was in receipt of an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship at The University of Western Australia (2017). The National Health and Medical Research Council also supported this project: Program Grant #572742, NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship #1117105 Funding for the WA Autism Register was received from numerous sources, including the Health Department of WA, the Disability Services Commission of WA, the Education Department of Western Australia, and grants from the Australian Rotary Health Research and the Friends of the Institute. EG, KB and IA conceived the study, participated in its design and coordination, data analysis and drafting of the manuscript; KW and NdK participated in the design, analysis and interpretation of the data and revised the manuscript; RM, SC, HL and JD participated in the study design, reviewed and edited the manuscript and provided specialist intellectual input for the interpretation of data; All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Ethics approval for this study was obtained from the Human Research Ethics Committee at The University of Western Australia (RA/4/20/4185).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants who gave identifying information as part of their registration in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Telethon Kids InstituteThe University of Western AustraliaWest PerthAustralia
  2. 2.School of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health SciencesThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  3. 3.Department of General PaediatricsPerth Children`s HospitalPerthAustralia
  4. 4.School of Physiotherapy and Exercise ScienceCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia

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