CDC Finds A 30 Percent Rise In Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnoses
March 28, 2014

CDC Finds A 30 Percent Rise In Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnoses

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

Autism diagnoses have risen 30 percent since the previous estimate, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The government agency said that about one in 68 children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which is 30 percent higher than the estimate for 2008 and 60 percent higher than the estimate for 2006. The CDC said that while it doesn’t know for sure what is causing this increase, it could be due to doctors getting better at identifying it in children.

The report was based on children who were eight years old and lived in areas of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin in 2010. The number of children identified with ASD in these areas varied widely, from one in 175 children in Alabama to one in 45 children in New Jersey.

The CDC researchers discovered that nearly half of the children identified with ASD had average or above average intellectual ability, with an IQ greater than 85.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement after the CDC reported its findings, saying it highlights the need for better screening and intervention strategies.

“The AAP is working to help make pediatric practices more equipped to provide ongoing care to the many children with autism,” Dr. James Perrin, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP, said in a statement. “These rising rates certainly underscore the need to improve our understanding of the causes of autism and to work on prevention.”

Previous studies have found that early intervention can improve children’s long-term development and social behaviors. The AAP emphasized how important screening for ASD is in helping children with the disorder.

“The prevalence data makes even more important the Academy’s focus on early screening, identification and referral for intervention for all children, and our work to support collaborative medical homes for children, youth and adults with autism spectrum disorder,” Susan Hyman, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP autism subcommittee, said in a statement.

She added that society doesn’t need to become numb to these numbers, but instead people should take them as a reminder that interventions for children with developmental disabilities are still needed.

According to the CDC, about 80 percent of children with ASD either received special education at school or had an ASD diagnosis from a clinician. The agency pointed out that this means 20 percent of children with ASD had symptoms documented in their records, but have not yet been classified as autistic by a professional in a school or clinic.

The AAP said it is urging Congress to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act, which has helped in early intervention, behavior treatments and understanding the causes of it.

“Today’s numbers highlight the need to immediately reauthorize this legislation before funding expires,” AAP said in a statement.