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New CDC Report Shows Similar Autism Prevalence Among Racial Groups

Autism prevalence in the U.S. is on the rise, according to a new study of 8-year-olds in eleven states. The report, released this month by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), found that 1 in 54 children in the U.S. had autism in 2016, marking a ten percent increase over the 2014 prevalence of 1 in 59 children. The report also found that boys are 4.3 times as likely as girls to have autism, a ratio consistent with previous estimates. An accompanying report on 4-year-olds also found that children with autism are being identified earlier. While the increase in autism prevalence could be connected to growing autism awareness, some experts believe that greater inclusion of children from different racial and ethnic groups might also play a role. The CDC report is the first to show an almost identical autism prevalence in black and white children, although autism prevalence in Hispanic children still lagged behind. According to a report by Spectrum, the CDC’s prevalence estimates were based on health and educational records collected at 11 sites by the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. Unlike previous reports, the CDC report includes the ‘cumulative incidence’ of autism in the sample population. ‘Cumulative incidence’ indicates the proportion of all children with autism who are diagnosed by a certain age. According to Spectrum’s article, the national cumulative is 13.2 per 1,000 children at age 8, compared with 10.2 at age 4. The new CDC report found that the autism prevalence in the 4-year-old and 8-year-old groups varied widely across states, which was also the case in the 2014 data. This disparity could simply be the result of differences in diagnostic practices and the availability of services, but it could also represent a true variability due to some unknown environmental cause. Catherine Rice, director of the Emory Autism Center in Atlanta, Georgia, believes the increasing prevalence in children with autism also means that autistic adults need more consideration, since nearly 75,000 autistic adolescents will become adults each year, according to the new estimates. “Most communities are not prepared to inclusively and respectfully address the many quality-of-life challenges unique to those on the spectrum,” Rice was quoted as saying by Spectrum. “As a society, we need to consider the long-term health and wellness of adults across the autism spectrum.” Source:


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