March, 2012

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Autism Prevalence in U.S. Rises to 1:88

By Catherine Croft Swanwick, Ph.D. on March 29, 2012


Overview:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced 1:88 as their latest estimate for prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the United States, as determined by the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.


Background:  Launched in 2000, the ADDM Network includes sites across the U.S. that track the number of children with ASD by screening children’s health and education records.


What’s New:  The latest estimate of 1:88 captures the number of 8 year old children with ASD as of the year 2008, as gathered by 14 ADDM state sites (AL, AZ, CO, GA, MD, MO, NC, PA, SC, WI, FL, AR, NJ, UT).  This ratio shows a sharp rise from the CDC’s previous estimate of 1:110, as determined by ADDM Network data gathered in 2006.


Why It’s Important:  Debate exists as to whether the higher ASD estimate actually represents a true rise in prevalence or instead reflects increased ASD awareness and detection.  Ongoing public health surveillance is needed to understand how such factors influence the ASD prevalence rate.


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