CDC announces new autism prevalence rate 1 in 59
The Centers for Disease Control’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network reported today that one in 59 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This reflects a 13.2 percent increase over the previous report of one in 68 prevalence rate (previous study: 1.5% population with ASD; newest study: 1.7% population with ASD). Boys also are 4.6 times more likely to be identified with ASD than girls.
The ADDM Network, the largest population-based program to monitor autism and the only autism tracking system that examines health and education records, provides estimates of the prevalence and characteristics of ASD among more than 300,000 8-year-old children in data collection sites throughout the country, including Minnesota as a first-time data collection site.
In Minnesota, the prevalence rate for autism is one in 42, the second highest rate of the 11 data collection sites throughout the country. Minnesota data was collected from Hennepin and Ramsey Counties only, which is where nearly one-third of Minnesota’s population base lies.
In addition to US Census race and ethnicity categories, Minnesota has two additional categories – Somali and Hmong. The ADDM Network found varying prevalence rates across racial and ethnic groups in Minnesota. The small number of children in some of thee groups makes it difficult to determine whether the rates of children with autism truly are significantly different across groups.
Some of the change in prevalence could be due to improved autism identification in minority populations – although autism is still more likely to be identified in white children than in black or Hispanic children. This identification is important, because children identified early with autism and connected to services are more likely to reach their fullest potential.
The average age of autism diagnosis in Minnesota is 4 years, 9 months across all groups. Of all records reviewed for the average, 73 percent of Minnesota records had evidence of autism as early as age 3.
In Minnesota, autism is identified much later than when first concerns are reported. The lag between first concern and diagnosis is notable because of the importance of early intervention.
“Though we are concerned about this increase, we are not surprised,” said Ellie Wilson, Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) Executive Director. “Along with an increase in diagnoses comes an increase in the need for programs and services to support individuals with autism from birth through retirement and to provide education and training to our communities. For nearly half a century, AuSM has been supporting individuals affected by autism through community-building, education, advocacy, and information and resources. We also understand the importance of early identification and of informing policies promoting improved outcomes in health care and education for individuals with autism.”