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Medical News & Perspectives
May 23 2012

Data on Autism Prevalence, Trajectories Illuminate Socioeconomic Disparities

JAMA. 2012;307(20):2137-2138. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3916

Easy answers about the etiology of autism continue to elude scientists. But emerging evidence on the growing number of autism spectrum disorder diagnoses and the trajectories of children with autism highlights the need for early diagnosis and access to treatment, particularly for minorities or economically disadvantaged families.

In late March, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the newest estimates of prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in the United States, which suggest a 78% increase in the prevalence of these disorders since 2002 (http://www.cdc.gov/Features/CountingAutism/). The CDC now estimates there were 11.4 cases of these disorders per 1000 children at 8 years of age in 2008, compared with 6.4 per 1000 in 2002.