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CDC Report: Autism Estimates Continue to Rise

Rate is 30% higher than previous estimates

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children — or 14.7 per 1,000 8-year-olds — in the U.S. has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a surveillance summary report.

The estimate is based on information collected from health and special-education records of children who were 8 years old and living in 11 communities in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin in 2010. The data were obtained from the CDC-sponsored autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network.

According to the new report, the estimated number of children identified with ASD continues to rise. This latest estimate is roughly 30% higher than previous estimates from the CDC’s autism tracking system.

Some things about ASD have remained the same, however. For example, the disorder is almost five times more common among boys than girls. Caucasian children are more likely to be identified with ASD than are African-American or Hispanic children. Moreover, most children with ASD are still not diagnosed until after age 4, even though ASD can be diagnosed as early as age 2.

However, the picture of ASD in communities is changing, the report says. Almost half of children identified with ASD have average or above-average intellectual ability (an IQ of 85 and above) compared with a third of children a decade ago.

Sources: CDC; March 27, 2014; and CDC Media Briefing; March 27, 2014.

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