CDC Finds Prevalence Rate for Autism Higher Than Previously Reported

The rate of children diagnosed as autistic is higher than previously reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Previous reports suggest approximately 1 in 68 children are on the autism spectrum, but the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network has changed its estimate to 1 in 59 children based on new data from 2014. The new estimate is based on 8-year-olds from 11 communities across the country, representing 8 percent of 8-year-olds in the country.

Some of the increase in prevalence rate could be attributed to better identification of autism in minority communities, though autism is still found at higher rates in white children, according to the CDC.

“Autism prevalence among black and Hispanic children is approaching that of white children,” said Stuart Shapira, associate director for science at CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, in a statement. “The higher number of black and Hispanic children now being identified with autism could be due to more effective outreach in minority communities and increased efforts to have all children screened for autism so they can get the services they need.”

Many of the children in the monitoring network also experienced a diagnostic delay. Less than half of the children in the network were identified as autistic by the time they were 4 years old, despite 2 years old being the earliest autism can be formally identified. Only 42 percent of children on the spectrum were given a developmental evaluation by age 3, though 85 percent of those on the spectrum had signs of autism by then. This lag could prevent children from receiving early intervention services, which could help a child reach his or her’s fullest potential, the CDC reported.

Other findings include that boys are four times more likely to be autistic, and less than a third of children on the spectrum have an intellectual disability.

Photo via Getty Images/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

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