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Autism Research Program



The reported prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has increased dramatically over the last three decades, from an estimate of 4 to 5 per 10,000 in the 1980s to nearly 147 in 10,000 (1.5%) today, making autism the second most common developmental disability in the United States, behind mental retardation. Several factors have contributed to this upward trend, including an expansion of diagnostic criteria, increased awareness, improved detection, and increased availability of diagnostic and intervention services.

While the causes of ASDs are unknown, a significant body of research provides evidence for a strong and complex genetic contribution. The possibility that the rising rates also represent an increase in incidence cannot be ruled out, suggesting a likely role for environmental factors operating in partnership with genetic susceptibility.

Our research focuses primarily on identifying genetic and environmental risk factors for ASDs and understanding patterns of detection, diagnosis, and utilization of health services for ASDs.

For more information about autism studies at Kaiser Permanente that are currently recruiting, please go to KPStudySearch. For detailed descriptions of the studies listed below, see Studies.

Autism Research Program Studies

Currently Recruiting

Understanding Family Economic Impact of Chronic Child Health Conditions (r-KIDS)
Cost of chronic health conditions, including ASD to families Kaiser Permanente families in Northern California, Oregon and Hawaii. Recruiting families with children with ASD, asthma and with children with no significant health conditions who are 3-17 years old to complete surveys online.

Barriers to Healthcare in a Latino Population with ASD
Parents of Latino children and adolescents who are Kaiser Permanente members or who are
non-Kaiser Permanente members living in communities served by Kaiser Permanente

ECHO Autism Spectrum Disorders - Enriched Risk (ASD-ER) (Phase 1 and 2)
Causes/Risk Factors 
Participants from the EARLI Study and from ECHO Phase 1

Recruitment Closed

Health System Integration Tools to Improve Primary Care for Autistic Adults (AASPIRE)
Health care accommodation tool for adults with ASD
Kaiser Permanente Northern California adults with an ASD diagnosis

Neurodevelopment of Cognitive Control in Autism: Adolescence to Young Adulthood
18-22 year old adults with an ASD diagnosis

Autism Family Biobank 
ASD Family Biobank for Genomic and Epidemiologic Analysis 
Kaiser Permanente Members diagnosed with ASD and BOTH their biological parents willing to donate biological samples

Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation Study (EARLI)
Causes/Risk Factors
Women more than 28 weeks pregnant who have a child with ASD

Study to Explore Early Development (SEED)
Causes/Risk Factors
2-5 year olds born and currently residing in Alameda or Santa Clara County

Maximizing Biospecimen Collection from Children with Mental Health Conditions (MHRN II)
Research methods
Caregivers of Kaiser Permanente members diagnosed with ASD

Transitioning Pediatric Patients with ASD to Adult Care: A Pilot Project
Caregivers and providers
Medical Services Kaiser Permanente members diagnosed with ASD ages 15-25

A Mixed Methods Approach to Evaluating ASD Interventions in KPNC: 
Diagnosis/Detection Medical Car

Data Analysis Only

Immune and Metabolic Markers during Pregnancy and Child Development (IMPaCT):
Causes/Risk Factors

Early Markers for Autism (EMA): 
Causes/Risk Factors

Role of Prenatal Vitamin D and Gene Interactions in Autism Spectrum Disorders-Leveraging an existing case-control study:
Causes/Risk Factors

Prospective Evaluation of Air Pollutions, Cognition, and Autism from Birth Onward: 
Causes/Risk Factors

Folic Acid Prevention Pathways for ASD in High Risk Families:
Causes/Risk Factors

Prenatal SSRI Exposure, Maternal and Child Genotype, and Autism Spectrum Disorders:
Causes/Risk Factors