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Children of migrant parents may be at greater risk of low-functioning autism spectrum disorder, but lower risk of high-functioning autism spectrum disorder

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Question: Is parental migration associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children, and does region of origin and timing of migration contribute to risk?

People: 3918 cases (2269 high-functioning; 1649 have low-functioning) aged 17 and younger with ASD identified from the Stockholm Youth Cohort through data-linkage with health and service registries in Stockholm County. Diagnosis of ASD was made by specialist multiprofessional teams at paediatric or child mental health services. Controls (n=40 045) were randomly selected from the same cohort, with 10 controls being matched to each case by birth date and gender. Children who were residents of Stockholm County for less than four years, were adopted, had one parent born abroad, had missing data or were asylum seekers without a residence permit were excluded.

Setting: Stockholm County, Sweden; 2001 to 2007.

Risk factors: Parent and child migration status, as indicated by maternal birth outside of Sweden. This was determined by linkage with mandatory reporting registers containing information on: country of birth; date of immigration to Sweden; family income at birth (for children born …

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  • Sources of funding: The Stockholm County Council and the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research.


  • Competing interests None.