Why Autism cases increasing in India

The increasing prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in India can be attributed to several factors, including heightened awareness, improved diagnostic criteria, and better access to healthcare services.

There has been a significant increase in awareness about autism among the general population, healthcare professionals, and educators in India. This has led to more parents recognizing the signs and symptoms of autism in their children and seeking early diagnosis and intervention.

Diagnostic techniques for autism have evolved over the years, leading to more accurate identification of individuals with the condition. This includes the use of standardized screening tools and assessments by trained professionals.

Rapid urbanization and changes in lifestyle patterns in India have been linked to the increasing prevalence of autism. Factors such as environmental pollution, exposure to toxins, and changes in diet and nutrition may play a role in the development of ASD.

Research suggests that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the development of autism. Increased research into the genetic basis of autism has led to a better understanding of its causes, including the identification of risk genes and gene-environment interactions.

With improvements in healthcare infrastructure and increased access to specialized services, more families in India are able to seek evaluation and support for their children with autism. This has led to a higher number of cases being identified and diagnosed.

Efforts to reduce the stigma associated with autism have encouraged families to seek help and support for their children. Community-based programs and advocacy efforts have played a crucial role in raising awareness and promoting acceptance of individuals with autism in Indian society.

According to Dr. Meghna Panchal, Consultant-Paediatrics, Fortis Greater Noida Hospital, “Environmental factors, such as pollution and exposure to toxins, which some studies suggest may play a role in the development of autism, though research in this area is ongoing. Potential Indirect Effects: Excessive screen time can contribute to sedentary behavior, reduced physical activity, and disrupted sleep patterns, all of which may indirectly affect developmental outcomes and potentially exacerbate symptoms in children with autism.”

Dr. Raghuram Mallaiah, Senior Director, Neonatologist, Fortis La femme Hospital , Delhi said, “Autism cases are on the rise in India due to improved awareness, better diagnostic tools, and changing societal norms. Factors such as environmental influences, genetic predisposition, and parental age also contribute. Regarding the quality of life for individuals with autism, it’s essential to recognize their diverse abilities and support needs. While some may face challenges in certain areas, many autistic individuals can lead fulfilling lives with appropriate interventions, access to support services, and a supportive community. It’s crucial to foster inclusion, understanding, and acceptance to enable them to thrive and contribute positively to society.”

Dr. Soumya Mittal, Head of the Department of Neurology at Sharda Hospital said, “Autism is a condition in which the people find it hard to communicate and interact with other people.  They have a difficulty in understanding how the other people will feel.  They get anxious and upset in unfamiliar situations and social events. And it takes longer for them to understand normal information.  Now, for Autism, you know, it’s not an illness. Autism is not an illness.”

In conclusion, the increasing prevalence of autism in India can be attributed to a combination of factors including increased awareness, improved diagnostic practices, lifestyle changes, genetic and environmental factors, and better access to healthcare services. Addressing the needs of individuals with autism requires a multi-faceted approach involving early intervention, education, and support services tailored to the unique needs of each individual and their families.