Dr Eric Fombonne talks during the Autism Workshop at Shafallah Center yesterday. Shaival Dalal
BY ERIKA WIDEN
Doha: The Shafallah Medical Genetics Center held a two day workshop which ended yesterday on autism conducted by experts from Qatar and neighbouring countries such Oman, Saudi Arabia.
The experts during the seminar dealt with four major sessions, the epidemiology, diagnosis, genetics and treatment of autism.
Autism is a disorder of the neural development, impaired by social interaction and communication and repetitive behaviour. Common signs tend to appear before the child is three years old.
The exact causes of autism remain unidentified; however there are active researches around the world, which categorise a number of factors that lead to such a disorder which include a genetic mutation.
“It takes $3.2m to take care of an autistic person over his or her lifetime. This is quite a burden for both middle class families and GCC ministries of health,” said Dr Ahood Almuslamani during her presentation.
Dr Fouad Alshaban said that 20 years ago one child would be diagnosed out of 2,000 and today its approximately one child per 110 due to advances in diagnostics and better services and awareness of the disorder.
In Qatar there are approximately 294 registered cases from the age of 3 to 18 years whose parents reside in the nation, with a male to female ratio of 5:1 as it is in Oman.
The prevalence of autism is about 1-2 per 1,000 people worldwide. However, in the United States it has been reported 9 per 1,000 children.
There is no actual prevalence studies conducted in Qatar. The number of cases have increased tremendously in the past two decades.
The Shafallah Medical Genetics Center is dedicated to the welfare of children with special needs and their families in Qatar; in addition it serves as a model for comprehensive and integrated genetic health care services in the Middle East and the world. The Peninsula