1 in 88
Stephanie Loranger, PhD
About 1 in 88 children in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last month (March 30, 2012). The new numbers represent an increase of 23 percent since the last report issued by the CDC two years ago in 2009.
The data come from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, which tracks the number of 8-year-old children with ASDs in 14 different states throughout the country. The report data are collected from children’s records and are evaluated by professionally trained clinicians.
The report shows the rate of prevalence varies widely by site. New Jersey and Utah had some of the highest rates while Alabama had the lowest rates of the surveyed states. It is not clear whether these differences are due to increased awareness, socioeconomic differences, or even geographic differences in environmental exposures.
The CDC report also shows that the rates of prevalence vary by race/ethnicity. The largest increases in prevalence were found in Hispanic and African-American children. This might indicate improved screening and awareness leading to increased prevalence in some communities.
These findings highlight the increased importance of research that will uncover the causes and lead to the development of effective therapies and treatments for autism spectrum disorders. New investments in collaborative research--that include families as partners in that research--are critical to understanding the full complexity of this disorder.
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