Autism in Poland in comparison to other countries
More details
Hide details
Nursing Department, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland
Public Health Department, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland
Biochemistry Department, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland
Submission date: 2015-01-16
Acceptance date: 2015-03-18
Online publication date: 2015-04-22
Publication date: 2020-03-24
Corresponding author
Elżbieta Kostyra   

Biochemistry Department, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Oczapowskiego 1A/319, 10-719 Olsztyn, Poland. Tel.: +48 89 523 39 38; fax: +48 89 535 20 15.
Pol. Ann. Med. 2015;22(1):35-40
In recent years, it has been suggested that the increasing incidence of autism diagnosed in Poland highlights improved diagnostics as well as the recorded increase in morbidity. The precise number of individuals with autism in Poland has not been determined, and current sources are unable to provide unequivocal Polish data.

The aim of this study is to compare the epidemiology of autism-related disorders in Poland with other European countries and the United States.

Material and methods:
Statistical data provided by the Polish National Health Fund Headquarters in June 2013 and data pooled from international journal articles were analyzed in detail.

Results and discussion:
The National Health Fund reported that 13 261 individuals up to 18 years of age received health services for autism and related disorders in Poland in 2012. This is a prevalence rate of 3.4 cases per 10 000 individuals. Incidence rates vary in different Polish regions, with the highest rates recorded in the following voivodships: warmińsko-mazurskie (6.5 cases per 10 000 individuals), śląskie (5.0), and pomorskie (4.6). The provinces with lowest rates were podlaskie (2.1), małopolskie (1.9), zachodniopomorskie (1.9), and łódzkie (1.8). These rates are far lower than those in European countries (20 per 10 000) and United States (200 per 10 000) epidemiological surveys.

Information on the prevalence of autism in Poland and in the world remains unclear and imprecise. This results from global differences in diagnostic criteria. There is urgent need to develop global standards for the diagnosis of autism in children.

None declared.
Moskowitz A, Heim G. Eugen Bleuler's Dementia praecox or the group of schizophrenias (1911): a centenary appreciation and reconsideration. Schizophr Bull. 2011;37(3):471–479.
Kanner L. Autistic disturbances of affective contact. Nervous Child. 1943;2:217–250.
Asperger H. Die ‘‘Autistischen Psychopathen’’ in Kindesalter. Arch Psychiatr Nervenkr. 1944;117(1):76–136 [in German].
WHO.The ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioral Disorders. Diagnostic Criteria for Research. Geneva: WHO; 1993 .
APA. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th ed. Washington: APA; 2000.
Rapin I. Autism. N Engl J Med. 1997;337(2):97–104.
Baird G, Cass H, Slonims V. Diagnosis of autism. BMJ. 2003;327(7413):488–493.
Howlin P, Moore A. Diagnosis of autism. Autism. 1997;1(2):135–162.
Baird G, Charman T, Baron-Cohen S, et al. A screening instrument for autism at 18 months of age. A 6-year followup study. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2000;39(6):694–702.
Baron-Cohen S, Allen J, Gillberg C. Can autism be detected at 18 months? The needle, the haystack, and the CHAT. Br J Psychiatry. 1992;161:839–843.
Osterling J, Dawson G. Early recognition of children with autism: a study of first birthday home video tapes. J Autism Dev Disord. 1994;24(3):247–259.
Charman T, Baird G. Practitioner review: diagnosis of autism spectrum in 2- and 3-year-old children. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2002;43(3):289–305.
Stone WL, Lee EB, Ashford L, et al. Can autism be diagnosed accurately in children under 3 years? J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1999;40(2):219–226.
Treffert DA. Epidemiology of infantile autism. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1970;22(5):431–438.
Burd L, Fisher W, Kerbeshan J. A prevalence study of pervasive developmental disorders in North Dakota. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1987;26(5):700–703.
Ritvo ER, Freeman BJ, Pingree C, et al. The UCLA-University of Utah epidemiologic survey of autism: prevalence. Am J Psychiatry. 1989;146(2):194–199.
Yeargin-Allsopp M, Rice C, Karapurkar T, Doernberg N, Boyle C, Murphy C. Prevalence of autism in a US metropolitan area. JAMA. 2003;289(1):49–55.
Bertrand J, Mars A, Boyle C, Bove F, Yeargin-Allsopp M, Decoufle P. Prevalence of autism in a United States population: the Brick Township, New Jersey, investigation. Pediatrics. 2001;108(5):1155–1161.
CDC. Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders – autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, six sites, United States, 2000. MMWR. 2007;56(SS-1):1–11.
CDC. Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders – autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, 14 sites, United States, 2002. MMWR. 2007;56(SS-1):12–28.
CDC. Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders – autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, United States, 2006. MMWR. 2009;58(SS-10):1–20.
CDC.Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders: autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008. MMWR. 2012;61(3):1–19.
Blumberg S, Bramlett MD, Kogan MD, et al. Changes in prevalence of parent-reported autism spectrum disorder in school-aged U.S. children: 2007 to 2011–2012. Natl Health Stat Report. (65):2013;(65):1–11.
Lotter V. Epidemiology of autistic conditions in young children: 1. Prevalence. Soc Psychiatry. 1966;1(3):124–137.
Wing L, Gould J. Severe impairments of social interactions and associated abnormalities in children: epidemiology and classification. J Autism Dev Disord. 1979;9(1):1–29.
Powell JE, Edwards A, Edwards M, Pandit BS, Sungum-Paliwal SR, Whitehouse W. Changes in the incidence of childhood autism and other autistic spectrum disorders in preschool children from two areas of the West Midlands, UK. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2000;42(9):624–628.
Fombonne E. Is there an epidemic of autism? Pediatrics. 2001;107(2):411–413.
Baron-Cohen S, Scott FJ, Allison C, et al. Prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions: UK school-based population study. Br J Psychiatry. 2009;194(6):500–509.
Baird G, Simonoff E, Pickles A, et al. Prevalence of disorders of the autism spectrum in a population cohort of children in South Thames: the Special Needs and Autism Project (SNAP). Lancet. 2006;368(9531):210–215.
Bölte S, Poustka F, Holtmann M. Trends in autism spectrum disorder referrals. Epidemiology. 2008;19(3):519–520.
Fernell E, Gillberg C. Autism spectrum disorder diagnoses in Stockholm preschoolers. Res Dev Disabil. 2010;31(3):680–685.
Kielinen M, Linna SL, Moilanen I. Autism in Northern Finland. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2000;9(3):162–167.
Saemundsen E, Magnússon P, Georgsdóttir I, Egilsson E, Rafnsson V. Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in an Icelandic birth cohort. BMJ Open. 2013;3(6).
Fombonne E, Mazaubrun C. Prevalence of infantile autism in four French regions. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 1992;27(4):203–210.
Fombonne E. The changing epidemiology of autism. J Appl Res Intellect Disabil. 2005;18(4):281–294.
Fombonne E. Epidemiology of pervasive developmental disorders. Pediatr Res. 2009;65(6):591–598.
Boyle CA, Boulet S, Schieve LA, et al. Trends in the prevalence of developmental disabilities in US children, 1997–2008. Pediatrics. 2011;127(6):1034–1042.
Rajner A, Wroniszewska M, Wroniszewski M. Raport 2000. Ocena stanu pomocy dzieciom i osobom autystycznym oraz ich rodzinom w Polsce. Światło i Cienie. 2001;3(33).
Synapsis. Skala. Accessed 06.06.14 [in Polish].
European Commission Health & Consumer Protection Directorate-General. Some Elements about the Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the European Union. Luxembourg: European Commission; 2005.
Randall P, Parker J. Autyzm. Jak pomóc rodzinie. Gdańsk: Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne; 2001:93 [in Polish].
Fombonne E. The prevalence of autism. JAMA. 2003;289(1):87–89.
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top