Original Research

Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder symptoms in a paediatric neurology clinic at a tertiary hospital in Uganda

Anita Arinda, Noeline Nakasujja, Raymond Odokonyero
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 27 | a1548 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v27i0.1548 | © 2021 Anita Arinda, Noeline Nakasujja, Raymond Odokonyero | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 April 2020 | Published: 28 January 2021

About the author(s)

Anita Arinda, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda
Noeline Nakasujja, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda
Raymond Odokonyero, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda


Share this article

Bookmark and Share

Abstract

Background: Children with neurological disorders are more likely to present with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptoms and get an ASD diagnosis. Despite the large burden of childhood neurological disorders in Uganda, there is limited information on ASD amongst children with neurological disorders in Uganda.

Aim: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and factors associated with ASD symptoms amongst children attending the paediatric neurology clinic.

Setting: The study was conducted at the paediatric neurology clinic of Mulago National Referral Hospital in Uganda.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 318 children aged 2–9 years. After obtaining consent, a socio-demographic questionnaire and the Social Communication Questionnaire were administered to the caregivers of the children. Additional questions were administered to assess the prenatal, birth and postnatal characteristics of the children. Sample characteristics were described using frequencies and means. Bivariate analysis was carried out using chi-square test and Fisher’s exact test. Multiple logistic regression models were used to assess which factors were independently associated with ASD symptoms.

Results: The mean age of the children was 5 years and 58.2% were males. The prevalence of significant ASD symptoms was found to be 45%. Factors negatively associated with significant ASD symptoms were female sex (odds ratio [OR] 0.48 [95% CI 0.24, 0.98]) and ability to speak (OR 0.09 [95% CI 0.04, 0.2]). The history of delayed developmental milestones was positively associated with significant ASD symptoms (OR 3.3 [95% CI 1.59, 6.84]).

Conclusion: The prevalence of ASD symptoms is high in children with neurological disorders. Children, especially those with delayed developmental milestones, should routinely be screened for ASD.


Keywords

prevalence; associated factors; autism spectrum disorder; neurological disorders; Uganda

Metrics

Total abstract views: 695
Total article views: 564


Crossref Citations

No related citations found.