Parental concerns, socioeconomic status, and the risk of autism spectrum conditions in a population-based study.


A total number of 11,635 screening packs were distributed to 5-10 year-old children in 136 schools in Cambridgeshire to investigate the associations between levels of parental concern (none/minor/strong), socioeconomic status and the risk of having Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). The variables for investigating associations and possible confounders were extracted for analysis, including parental concern question score, SES, age of the child, sex, maternal age at birth, paternal age at birth, mother's age of leaving education, father's age of leaving education, birth order and the number of children in the family. The SES, age of the child, sex and mother's age at leaving education were associated with parental concern. Parents with higher SES reported higher levels of concern (Chi-square = 11.8; p = 0.02). However, a higher SES was not associated with the risk of having ASC (p = 0.50). After adjusting for potential confounders, the odds of children meeting ASC criteria whose parents had reported strong parental concern were 8.5 times (odds ratio: 8.5; 95%CI: 4.5, 16.2; p < 0.001) the odds of children having ASC whose parents reported minor concern. No child met ASC criteria where parents expressed no concerns. Parents with higher social class express more concerns than those from lower social classes. However, the concerns reported by parents in higher SES did not appear to be specific for ASC as there was no relationship between ASC and SES.