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CDC Report: Autism Rate Holds Steady in U.S.

One in 68 school-age kids have the disease

An estimated one in 68 (14.6 per 1,000) school-aged children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency’s surveillance summary, published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, shows essentially no change in ASD prevalence and in the proportion of school-aged children with ASD compared with a report released in 2014. However, it is too soon to know whether the prevalence of ASD in the U.S. might be starting to stabilize, the agency says.

The data come from the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) network––a tracking system that provides estimates of the prevalence and characteristics of ASD among 8-year-old children in 11 communities in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin. The data in the latest report are for 2012, whereas the data in the 2014 report were from 2010.

Although the average prevalence of ASD in the 11 ADDM network sites combined did not change between 2010 and 2012, ASD prevalence still varied widely among the 11 communities. The differences were seen by geographic region and between sites with different access to data resources.

The new report also indicates where efforts and resources can be directed to better support children and families with ASD. Black and Hispanic children continue to be less likely to be identified with ASD than white children, according to the CDC. In addition, black and Hispanic children receive developmental evaluations later than white children.

The report also shows that, overall, less than half (43%) of children identified with ASD receive developmental evaluations by age 3. This suggests that many children may not be identified as early as they could be. Progress needs to be made to reach the Healthy People 2020 goal of increasing to 47% the proportion of children with ASD having a first evaluation by age 3, the CDC said.

Source: CDC; March 31, 2016.

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