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Monday, January 24, 2022

New data suggests that 1 in 44 US children are affected by autism

by Lindsay Tanner | The Associated Press

New autism numbers released Thursday show that more American children are being diagnosed with the developmental condition and at a younger age.

In an analysis of 2018 data from nearly a dozen states, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that among 8-year-olds, 1 in 44 had been diagnosed with autism. This rate compares to 1 in 54 diagnosed with autism in 2016.

U.S. autism numbers have been rising for several years, but experts believe that the actual increase in the number of children affected reflects more awareness and wider availability of services to treat the condition, rather than the actual increase.

A separate CDC report released Thursday said that children by the age of 4 were 50% more likely to be diagnosed with autism in 2018 than in 2014.

CDC researcher and co-author Kelly Shaw said, “Some progress is being made and the earlier children are identified, the sooner they can access the services they need to improve their developmental outcome.” “

Geraldine Dawson, director of Duke University’s Center for Autism and Brain Development, said the new estimate comes from research based on examining larger populations of children rather than those previously diagnosed. As such, she said it may be closer to reflecting the true state of autism in American children than earlier estimates.

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The CDC reports are based on data from counties and other communities in 11 states — some with more urban neighborhoods, where autism rates are higher. The authors said the rates are estimates and do not necessarily reflect the overall US situation.

Autism rates vary widely – from 1 in 26 in California, where services are plentiful, to 1 in 60 in Missouri.

Overall, the prevalence of autism was similar across racial and ethnic lines, but rates were higher among black children at two sites, Maryland and Minnesota. Until recently, US data showed the prevalence was higher among white children.

In a third site, Utah, the rate was higher among children from low-income families than children from wealthy families, reversing a long-standing trend, said report co-author Amanda Buckian, a University of Utah researcher who worked in that state. Oversees CDC’s autism surveillance. ,

Buckian said that shows the potential for greater coverage for autism services by Medicaid and private health insurers.

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Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.

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The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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