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CDC: Autism prevalence rises to 1 in 59 children

27 April 2018
CDC: Autism prevalence rises to 1 in 59 children

The increase may be due in part to increased identification of autism spectrum disorder in racial and ethnic minority children.

Autism spectrum disorder, a developmental disability, is characterized by problems with communication and social interaction with accompanying repetitive behavior patterns.

Though estimates of autism varied widely among the 11 communities, five reported similar estimates of up to 1.4%.

Diagnosing and treating youngsters early is key, Beckwith said, as children's brains continue to develop until they are 21, so intervention early on can have a more lasting impact.

"It's really kind of unacceptable that you have parents telling their doctors that they have concerns and they're not getting a diagnosis until over a year later", said Alycia Halladay, chief science officer at the Autism Science Foundation.

White children are diagnosed with autism more often than black or Hispanic children, but the gap has closed dramatically. Perhaps, rather than more kids having autism, just more of them are being diagnosed with it. Communities are doing a better job of diagnosing autism among minority populations, said Alison Singer, president and co-founder of the Autism Science Foundation, who was not involved in the new report.

"We want to see children imitating other children, recognizing the emotions of others and being responsive to those changes in emotions".

"Other states are likely underestimating autism", he said. Part of the reason for early monitoring is to help find a cause but also to try to get kids treated while they are still very young. According to the recent findings, one in every sixty-nine 8-year-old American children is living with an autism spectrum disorder.

Fewer than 50% of the children in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network had their initial autism diagnosis before reaching 4 years of age. New Jersey's prevalence rate is 29.4 cases per 1,000 children, based on the 2014 data.

In the past, more than half of children identified with autism also had intellectual disability, and now it's about a third, she said. New CDC data suggests that about 1.7 percent of children have the developmental disorder.

Arkansas was the only state that collected data from the entire state, including rural areas, as opposed to specific sites. Those differences, experts say, may be due to how autism is diagnosed and documented in the different states.

Though we may not fully grasp all that autism encompasses, there are services and supports available that can assist families in achieving positive outcomes for their loved ones. Experts recommend more research to fully understand why youth autism rates have risen. One of them comes from Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the "Learn the Signs".

"There are still undefined environmental risks which contribute to this significant increase, factors that could affect a child in its development in utero or related to birth complications or to the newborn period", he said. Last year, the CDC also produced the Milestone Tracker mobile app "for smartphones and tablets that parents can use to monitor their child's development in fun and interactive ways".