Autism Spectrum Disorder Rates Increasing, CDC Report Finds

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According to new Centers for Disease Control data, the prevalence rates for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children has increased, with an estimated one in 88 eight-year-olds in the United States currently diagnosed with an ASD such as autism or Asperger’s syndrome.

In a Surveillance Summary published last week in the Morbidity and Mortality Report, the CDC notes a 23 percent jump in autism spectrum disorder diagnoses from 2006 to 2008, with an estimated 78 percent increase in cases from 2002 to 2008.

According to the findings, the diagnosis rates between black and Hispanic children and whites are closing, with African-American children being diagnosed at a rate of 10.2 cases per 1,000 compared to 12 cases per 1,000 for Caucasian children. The new data reports that 7.9 in 1,000 Hispanic children may be affected by disorders such as autism, Asperger’s syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS ).

According to the findings, boys are five times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with autism or Asperger’s syndrome. The report also finds that among 8-year-old boys, regardless of ethnicity, one in 54 may have an autism spectrum disorder.

The report was based on surveillance network statistics compiled from 14 sites across the United States. The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, which analyzes rates among eight-year-olds at specified surveillance sites every two years, is currently collecting data for a report on diagnosis rates from 2010. The ADMM Network is also in the process of compiling information for its first ever report on ASD rates among four-year-olds.

“Estimates of ASD continue to increase in the majority of ADDM Network communities, and ongoing public health surveillance is needed to quantify and understand these changes over time,” the report said. “Further work is needed to evaluate multiple factors affecting ASD prevalence over time.”

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