1 in 44 children in the US has autism, study finds

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In a new study from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found the autism rate among 8-year-old children in the United States is one in 44, and one in 35 in New Jersey.

They used a new method to estimate the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children of various ages at 11 sites in 2018.

The rate of one in 44 among 8-year-olds was the highest estimate to date by the CDC-Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network since its inception in 2000.

In the study, the team used information from 220,281 children, including 5,058 8-year-old children with ASD in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.

Boys with ASD outnumbered girls by 4.2 to 1, and differences in prevalence and a median age of ASD diagnosis were evident across sites.

Prevalence ranged from 1.6 percent (Missouri) to 3.9 percent (California); the median age of diagnosis ranged from 36 months (California) to 63 months (Minnesota).

ASD prevalence varied by race/ethnicity and wealth. New Jersey’s autism rate (2.8 percent) was higher than the network average (2.3 percent) and higher than the 2016 estimate from New Jersey using the new CDC methodology (2.3 percent).

New Jersey is known for excellent clinical and educational services for ASD, so the state’s higher rates are likely due to more accurate or complete reporting based on education and health care records.

The new findings show that autism prevalence has not plateaued.

Researchers no longer see as many differences in prevalence by race.

Black and Hispanic children have the same ASD prevalence as white children in multiple states, and many ADDM sites show that autism prevalence is no longer highest among children from affluent communities.

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The study is published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. One author of the study is Walter Zahorodny.

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