Australian children with Down syndrome are often treated as an exotic and mysterious breed, with parents often left to wonder if their children will be “the next David Blaine”.
But research is showing that Asian babies are at the centre of a rare but very real condition that is not always a happy one.
It is now known that Asian children are more likely to develop ASD symptoms, and have a higher incidence of autism spectrum disorders.
A study published in the journal Autism Research found that Asian people had more ASD symptoms than people of other ethnicities, and had a higher prevalence of autism and Asperger’s.
“Asian children with autism have more symptoms than their white peers, and more than half of Asian children have Aspergers syndrome,” Dr Helen Smith, a researcher at Melbourne’s University of Technology, said.
Dr Smith said that while Asian children were often treated in the same way as their white counterparts, they are sometimes also overlooked for “a lot of other health and developmental issues”.
“The children of Asian parents are often seen as less intelligent, less social, and less loving,” she said.
“So they often are more at risk of a range of things.”
I think they are also at risk for some developmental problems, particularly behavioural problems.
“We think of autism as a rare disorder, but it is more common than previously thought.”
Dr Smith says Asian parents often had very high rates of depression and anxiety, as well as eating disorders and depression.
“Children who have a parent with ASD are more frequently at risk than children who don’t,” she explained.
“They also have a very low birth weight, so they are often more at high risk of ASD symptoms later in life.”
The researchers also found that parents of Asian babies tended to have lower incomes, were more likely than their non-Asian counterparts to have a history of drug or alcohol problems, and were more prone to violence.
“These are factors that can also have an impact on social adjustment, as children of ethnic minorities tend to have very high levels of anxiety and depression,” Dr Smith said.
The study found that children of Chinese parents were significantly more likely (47 per cent) to have Aspies syndrome, and that they had a high prevalence of social anxiety disorder and autism spectrum disorder.
But Dr Smith cautioned that the findings were not conclusive.
“What we don’t know is whether Asian parents have these other health issues,” she added.
“It’s not clear whether there is a genetic component.”
The data is very sparse and it’s not entirely clear why Asian parents with ASD have these characteristics.
“Dr Martin Gee, from the Department of Psychiatry at Curtin University, said it was not yet known how many Asian babies have ASD, or whether the condition would be more common in certain ethnic groups.”
For a lot of families, there may be more Asian parents than white parents, and it is difficult to ascertain that this is the case,” he said.
Topics:children,autism,family-and-children,mental-health,australiaFirst posted November 14, 2018 07:53:38Contact Emily HenshawMore stories from Victoria”
We know that Asian parents tend to be older, so there may also be a risk of some of these other disorders associated with older parents,” he added.
Topics:children,autism,family-and-children,mental-health,australiaFirst posted November 14, 2018 07:53:38Contact Emily HenshawMore stories from Victoria