Possible evidence for a fall in the prevalence of high-functioning pervasive developmental disorder with age?

03 Oct 2017

A survey was undertaken to investigate the prevalence of high-functioning pervasive developmental disorder (HFPDD) in a community sample of teenagers and adults aged 13 and above in the city of Sheffield, UK. 112 possible and definite cases were found, of whom 65 (57%) had a previous diagnosis. The detected prevalence of possible or definite HFPDD was found to be 0.24 per 1000 of the population of Sheffield city aged 13 or over, but the prevalence by year of age fell from a maximum of 1.1 per 1000 in the group aged 13 to 14 years old (1 young adult in every 900 in this age group) to 0.03 per 1000 in the over 60s (1 person in every 38500 in this age group). The results of this study are preliminary and need follow-up investigation in larger studies. We suggest several explanations for the findings, including reduced willingness to participate in a study as people get older, increased ascertainment in younger people, and increased mortality. Another contributory factor might be that the prevalence of high-functioning pervasive development disorder may decline with age. This raises the possibility that AS symptoms might become subclinical in adulthood in a proportion of people with HFPDD.