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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
June 12, 2018

Uptick in Autism

JAMA. 2018;319(22):2264. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.6806

A slight uptick in US cases of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) was detected in 2014 compared with the years between 2010 and2012, according to a new CDC report.

Since 2000, the CDC has documented increases in the prevalence of autism among children 8 years of age at the 11 sites across the country in the agency’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM). Between 2000 and 2002, about 1 in 150 children who were 8 years old had an ASD diagnosis, according to ADDM data. The prevalence increased to 1 in 68 between the years 2010 and 2012, and now the data for 2014 suggest a rate of 1 in 59. However, the authors of the report cautioned that these data from 11 sites do not provide a representative sample of the entire United States. The prevalence of ASD in 2014 also varied widely by site.

The CDC established the ADDM in 2000 to help it track autism across the United States. Some of the trends have remained relatively consistent. For example, boys are still about 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than girls. There have also been persistent differences in ASD diagnoses by race and ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Combined data from all ADDM sites suggest the rate of ASD diagnosis is 7% higher in white children than black children, and 22% greater among white children than Hispanic children .

“With prevalence of ASD ranging from 13.1 to 29.3 per 1000 children aged 8 years in different communities throughout the United States, the need for behavioral, educational, residential, and occupational services remains high, as does the need for increased research on both genetic and nongenetic risk factors for ASD,” the authors wrote.

News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Section Editor: Rebecca Voelker, MSJ.