National Autism Rates Seem to Have Reached a Plateau

Apr 1, 2016

Credit Dollar Photo Club

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) seems to have reached a plateau, with as many children affected by ASD in the United States today as two years ago, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last reported on the subject. No West Virginia specific data is available.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in 68 school-aged children has ASD in the United States, according to a report published yesterday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Surveillance Summary.

Boys are more than four times as likely as girls to have autism. Non-Hispanic white children are more likely to have the disorder than black and Hispanic children. However, this may be because black and Hispanic children receive developmental evaluations later than white children, noted the report. Overall, less than half (43 percent) of children identified with ASD receive developmental evaluations by age 3, the recommended age.

The CDC tracks autism prevalence among 8-year-olds in a sampling of communities in 11 states:  Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin. No agency is currently tracking autism prevalence in central Appalachia. There was variation in the autism rates among the 11 sample communities, but this may be because the sites varied in the way they collected data – some states, such as New Jersey, reviewed both education and health records while others, such as Maryland, only reviewed health records.

The 2016 report represents data from 2012; the 2014 report represented data from 2010. In a press release earlier this week, experts caution that it’s “too soon to say whether autism prevalence is stabilizing,” but that the CDC will continue monitoring ASD.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation.