Monday, March 25, 2013

CDC: Autism Rate Now 1 in 50 Children

March 20, 2013

The prevalence of autism has increased, researchers say, now affecting 1 in 50 children.

The latest estimate released Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention comes from a national telephone survey of nearly 100,000 parents conducted in 2011 and 2012.

Parents were asked a number of health questions about their children including whether they had ever been told by a doctor that their child had an autism spectrum disorder. The results suggest that autism is occurring in 2 percent of school-age children.

That’s substantially higher than prevalence numbers the CDC just last March which put the rate of autism at 1 in 88 American children. That previous estimate relied on a study of health and education records collected on 8-year-olds. The current research included children ages 6 to 17, but is considered by some to be less reliable since it is based on parent-reported information.

Federal officials say the increase is largely due to better diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. The jump in prevalence was most pronounced among older children with milder forms of the condition.

Consistent with previous findings, the survey found that boys were four times more likely than girls to have autism.

The new estimate released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would mean at least 1 million children have autism.

The new study has has tremendous significance for the nation’s service and public health systems.

“These statistics represent millions of families across the country that are looking for resources and answers to help their children. But meanwhile, the across-the-board budget cuts in Washington are hampering the vital efforts offederal agencies like the CDC and the National Institutes of Health,which are working to find the underlying causes of autism,and could have real consequences in our society,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, Washington D.C.

“And these are not the only threats – lifeline programs like Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare are on the table for real cuts that may impact the ability of these families to get services in the near and distant future for their children, as well as hurting adults with ASD who depend on those programs today. It is not enough to say we want a balanced approach to deficit reduction - we must stand together and say that we cannot simply cut our way out of this situation. We need more revenue to pay for critical investments like prevention and treatment, as well as services and supports for people with autism,” added Berns.

Dr. Glenn Motola, CEO of The Arc San Francisco, said, "This new data underscores the critical need for support services for not only children with autism, and the adults they are becoming."

See CDC's full report online at:

Courtesy of Shaun Heasley, Disability Scoop and The Arc United States

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