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Autism News
Apr 7, 2014 - 10:16:47 AM

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Recently an article on CNN.com addressed the issue of the exploding incidence of autism. Check out the excerpts below.

Autism rates now 1 in 68 U.S. children: CDC
By Miriam Falco, CNN
This newest estimate is based on the CDC's evaluation of health and educational records of all 8-year-old children in 11 states: Alabama, Wisconsin, Colorado, Missouri, Georgia, Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, North Carolina, Utah and New Jersey.

The incidence of autism ranged from a low of 1 in 175 children in Alabama to a high of 1 in 45 in New Jersey, according to the CDC.

Children with autism continue to be overwhelmingly male. According to the new report, the CDC estimates 1 in 42 boys has autism, 4.5 times as many as girls (1 in 189). The largest increase was seen in children who have average or above-average intellectual ability, according to the CDC. The study found nearly half of children with an autism spectrum disorder have average or above-average intellectual ability -- an IQ above 85 -- compared with one-third of children a decade ago.

The report is not designed to say why more children are being diagnosed with autism, Boyle says. But she believes increased awareness in identifying and diagnosing children contributes to the higher numbers.

One thing that hasn't changed over the years is that children are still being diagnosed late. According to the report, the average age of diagnosis is still over age 4, even though autism can be diagnosed by age 2.
The earlier a child is diagnosed with autism, the better their chances of overcoming the difficulties that come with the disorder.

"It's not a cure, but it changes the trajectory," says Dr. Gary Goldstein, president and CEO of the Kennedy Krieger Institute and professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University.

Every two years, researchers count how many 8-year-olds have autism in about a dozen communities across the nation. (The number of sites had ranged from six to 14 over the years, depending on the available funding in a given year.)

In 2000 and 2002, the autism estimate was about 1 in 150 children. Two years later 1 in 125 8-year-olds was believed to have autism. In 2006, the number grew to 1 in 110, and then the number went up to 1 in 88 based on 2008 data.

Boyle acknowledges these statistics are not necessarily representative of the entire United States because the information is drawn from 11 states, not a national cross-section.

But she adds that the 11 areas represent 9% of all 8-year old children in the United States in 2010, which Boyle says gives the CDC a "good picture of what's going on in those communities with regards to autism."

However, experts such as Wiznitzer and Goldstein are concerned that the new CDC report is not describing the same autism that was present and diagnosed 20 years ago, when the numbers first shot up.

"Twenty years ago we thought of autism with intellectual disability. We never looked at children who had normal intelligence" -- doctors never considered that high-functioning children had autism too, says Goldstein.

And while the CDC reports it is still seeing a higher prevalence of autism in white children relative to African-American and Hispanic children, "there's a greater percentage of people of color and in females being diagnosed now," says Scott Badesch, president and CEO of the Autism Society of America. "We're also seeing a great increase of diagnosis above the age of 8 in girls."

Quotation of the Week
"Statistics: The only science that enables different experts using the same figures to draw different conclusions."
Evan Esar, Esar's Comic Dictionary

Comments: Trish-blair@redwoods.edu

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