Autism Prevalence Increases: 1 in 59 U.S. Children
One in 59 US children has autism, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new estimate represents a 15% increase from two years prior and a 150% increase since 2000.
The new estimate is a prevalence rate of 1.7%, up from one in every 68 children (1.5%) in the 2016 report, which was based on data from 2012. The new figure was derived from 2014 estimates for 8-year-olds diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in 11 communities across the nation.
Autism spectrum disorder, a developmental disability, is characterized by problems with communication and social interaction with accompanying repetitive behavior patterns.
The CDC launched the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network in 2000 to collect data that would provide estimates of the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities. The agency laid the groundwork for the network in 1996, when it developed a methodology for estimating autism prevalence using information from children’s health and education records, Daisy Christensen, co-author of the new report and surveillance team lead in the developmental disabilities branch of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities said.
The new estimated rate of autism in the United States is based on data collected from 11 communities in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin. It is not nationally representative, Christensen noted.
Overall, fewer than half of the children identified with autism had received their first diagnosis by the time they were 4 years old, the new CDC report finds. Concerns about development were noted in the health records of 85% of children with autism by age 3, but only 42% received a developmental evaluation by that age.