US Autism Rates Remain Unchanged


Rates of autism in the U.S. show no change – at 1 in 68 children –according to new figures compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The rate of 1 in 68 represents almost 15 school aged children per 1000. This rate is similar to the previous compilation of figures, undertaken in 2010. This follows several years of increased detection. One reason for growing numbers during the twenty-first century is improved methods of diagnosis.

Altogether, it is unclear whether levels of autism have stabilized and data to be collected over the next few years will need to be analysed to provide the actual trend. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.

The new figures were compiled by the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. This tracking system estimates of the prevalence autism spectrum disorder among 8-year-old children in 11 communities. These communities relate to the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin.

A point of interest is the variation across the different states. In communities that are economically poorer, or which have higher populations of ethnic minorities, autism rates appear to be higher. Here it is notable that the age at which a child is first identified with autism is higher. Less than half of children are detected as having autism by the age of 3 (which is the current U.S. target). Early identification makes a difference to the lives of children because it allows for appropriate social and educational support.

The variation also ties up with different levels of healthcare support, where conditions in each U.S. state are not equal. Commenting on this, Dr. Stuart K. Shapira, who is the medical officer for CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, stated:

“What we know for sure is that there are many children living with autism who need services and support, now and as they grow into adolescence and adulthood.”

To assist with earlier detection, the CDC has launched a new initiative called “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” This provides resources for monitoring children’s development.

In related news, earlier this year The Latest News reported on research investigating the potential causes of autism. Here scientists identified a blood vessel in the brain that may explain some cases. This is of interest because, hitherto, autism has been linked with the neurological make-up of the brain.

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.