The rate of U.S. cases of autism and related disorders rose to about 1 in 88 children. The previous estimate was 1 in 110. The study showed that there are five times as many boys with autism as there are girls and there are fewer recorded instances of autism in African-American and Hispanic children.
The study is considered the most comprehensive U.S. investigation of autism prevalence to date. Researcher gathered data from areas in 14 states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.
This new number means autism is nearly twice as common as officials said it was only five years ago, and likely affects roughly 1 million U.S. children and teens.
Health officials believe the increase largely due to better recognition of cases, through wide screening and better diagnosis. But the search for the cause of autism is really only beginning, and officials acknowledge that other factors may be helping to drive up the numbers.
“We’re not quite sure the reasons for the increase,” said Coleen Boyle of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For decades, the diagnosis was given only to kids with severe language and social impairments and unusual, repetitious behaviors. The definition of autism has slowly expanded, and “autism” is the umbrella term for a group of milder, related conditions, including Asperger’s syndrome. Meanwhile, there’s been an explosion in autism-related treatment and services for children.
“The soaring autism rate is one of our major concerns and one that I have been trying to alarm the world for many years. That is why I am convening the International Autism Conference in August that will take place in Jerusalem” said Dr. Joshua Weinstein, CEO & Founder of Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices in Brooklyn, NY and ICare4Autism in Jerusalem, Israel “We are going to have 50 major international researchers address this very topic”.