CDC: Nearly 1 percent of U.S. kids have autism

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

An average of one in 110 children have an autism spectrum disorder, according to a new study of the health and education records of 8 percent of 8-year-old children in the United States. In its release, the CDC says “These results reflect data collected in multiple communities throughout the U.S. from 2006 showing an estimated prevalence of ASDs to be about one percent of 8-year-olds in the U.S.”

The study, from the CDC‘s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, looked at the records of 307,790 children in 11 study sites and identified 2,757 with an autism spectrum disorder. ASD prevalence was higher in boys than in girls and varied by race and ethnicity. The study also found that the overall prevalence of ASD has increased since earlier studies.

“These results indicate an increased prevalence of identified ASDs among U.S. children aged 8 years and underscore the need to regard ASDs as an urgent public health concern.” In the report, the CDC acknowledges the need to “understand how complex genetic and environmental factors interact to result in the symptoms which make up the autism spectrum.”

The CDC reports that, based on its examination of the records, most children with an ASD are getting special education services in the public schools, though not all were categorized as having an ASD. Other reasons for them receiving special education included specific learning disabilities, speech and language impairments, other health impairments and intellectual disabilities.

Interestingly, the Age of Autism blog reported the news from this study as early as Wednesday, despite the CDC’s embargo that didn’t lift until noon Eastern time on Friday, bringing to mind earlier questions about embargoes. More about that here.

Media briefing

The CDC is having a telephone-only briefing with Catherine Rice, Ph.D., a behavioral health scientist with the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, to discuss the data at noon Eastern time. The briefing will be available via listen-only audio web site. The CDC will make a transcript of the briefing available on its Web site.

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