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Eric Fombonne, MD, FRCP, (b. 1954, Paris, France) is a professor of psychiatry and an epidemiologist. He directs the child psychiatry division at McGill University in Canada and the psychiatry department at the Montreal Children's Hospital, where he played a key role in the launch of its autism clinic. Fombonne is also the Canada Research Chair in child psychiatry. His research focuses on epidemiological investigations of childhood mental illness and related risk factors, with a particular focus on the epidemiology of autism.

Fombonne is a permanent member of a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) study section and has been appointed to a special National Institute of Health (NIH) advisory board for autism research programs. In October, 2002 he became the president of the Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry of Canada (APCAPC).


Prior to his arrival in Canada, Fombonne was a researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College in London, United Kingdom, where he also worked as a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Maudsley Hospital. While there, he and his colleagues were credited with demonstrating that there is no epidemiological evidence of a link between the MMR vaccine with autism, as postulated by other researchers including Andrew Wakefield. A New Scientist article quotes Fombonne as saying "Trying to link this with MMR is complete nonsense."

One of the major studies conducted by Fombonne examined depression, which linked alcohol abuse to increased suicidal tendencies in boys, using data on 6,000 subjects.

At McGill University, Fombonne has consolidated the Autism Spectrum Disorder program in Montreal since his appointment there in 2001. He currently heads an autism research program directed at evaluating environmental risk factors, such as vaccines, and investigating genetic risks associated with the heritability of autism. He has also been involved in molecular genetic studies of clinical depression, and in long-term outcome studies of child and adolescent depression. Template:Quote box

Prevalence of autism

Fombonne recently conducted a metanalysis of available epidemiological evidence of the prevalence of autism. His review concluded that the prevalence rate for autism is 10/10,000 and the rate of all pervasive developmental disorders around 27/10,000. However, he also noted several more recent studies indicating a much higher prevalence rate than this with a broader inclusion basis - he estimates this number to be around 60-70/10,000.[1] He attributes the apparent rise in autism cases to wider recognition of the condition, and argues that claims of an 'autism epidemic' are unfounded. [1] In 2001, he told the BBC "That rates in recent surveys are substantially higher than 30 years ago merely reflects the adoption of a much broader concept of autism, a recognition of autism among normally intelligent subjects and an improved identification of persons with autism."

Published works

Fombonne has written over 170 scientific reports in peer reviewed journals and 35 book chapters. He was associate editor of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders from 1994 to 2003.


  1. Fombonne, E. (2003).


  • Fombonne, E. (2003). Epidemiological Surveys of Autism and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders: An Update. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33 (4), pp365–382.

External links

Template:Pervasive developmental disorders

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