According to new data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Their new figures now show that autism affects one in 59 children, an increase of 68 in 68 children.
Dr. Walter Zahorodny, pediatrician and autism researcher, is "stunned by the speed of the climb".
These data were collected in 2014 via the Autism and Disability Monitoring Network (ADDM), an organization designated by the authors of the study as "an active monitoring system with estimates of the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children aged "is described 8 years."
In this study, the ADDM network identified over 1
The overall prevalence of autism was 16.8 per 1,000 children, or 1.68 percent according to the study. This number varied between different states. The state with the lowest rate was Arkansas at 13.1 per 1,000 children. The state with the highest rate was New Jersey at 29.3 in 1,000 children. There is no reason for regional differences.
Zahorodny, the lead researcher at the New Jersey website, states "3 percent is one real landmark, given that we started at 1 percent autism prevalence 14 years ago. "
These rates of autism are significantly higher than those in the last study of ADDM, which considered a similar number of infants in 2012. This new study looks at exactly the same six sites that participated in 2012 and at these locations, the autism rates in 2014 were 20 percent higher than in 2012.
Historically, the incidence of autism in white children is 20-30 percent greater than that of black children and 50-70 percent greater than that of Hispanic children. Consistent with these earlier data, autism was more common among white children, although there was a significant increase in diagnosis among black and Hispanic children, with the prevalence in white children being only 7 percent greater than that of black children and 22 percent greater than in Hispanic children , In accordance with previous studies, autism was about four times more common in boys.
An Outlier: There was virtually no difference in the autism rates between white, black and Hispanic children in New Jersey. The authors argue that New Jersey's overall higher prevalence of autism is related to the more inclusive diagnosis of minority children and could therefore be the most accurate in the study.
This study is not intended to be representative of the entire country. There are clear limitations, mainly because the data comes from only 11 websites. In addition, there were discrepancies in the amount and type of medical and educational data recorded from state to state. The data in this study is only as accurate as the information documented by doctors, counselors, and schools.
Why are more children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder than ever?
The short answer: We do not know.
The cause of autism is still unknown. There are associations between autism and preterm birth, advanced parental age and genetics – but no evidence of causality, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). There is also a lot of talk about possible environmental causes, but there is no science that supports these claims (the claim that vaccines cause autism has been refuted by the AAP again and again).
To be diagnosed on the spectrum, a child must have three key features: delayed speech development, abnormal, repetitive behavior, and socialization difficulties. Children with autism may have stereotypical behaviors such as rocking, twisting, hand flapping and toe walking. You may also have difficulty in having eye contact or playing with other children.
It is important to know that there are many children who are NOT in the spectrum who can demonstrate these behaviors. The diagnosis of autism is made by looking at a child's development, language, and behavior as a whole. If you have concerns about your child, you should talk to a pediatrician.
As the name implies, there is great severity. While many children in the school perform well and make friends with minimal support, others may need working language and behavioral therapy.
What leads us to the treatment of autism: therapy, therapy and more therapy.
There is no cure for autism, but certain types of therapies have been proven to improve a child's ability to function in the real world.
One of the most alarming findings in this new study is the widespread delayed diagnosis of autism. The mean age of diagnosis was 52 months, just over 4 years. Children with autism should be diagnosed at the age of 3 years and receive appropriate therapies of 4 years, according to the Ministry of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 goals.
According to these figures, we diagnose most children too late.
"We must have strong joint efforts for universal autism screening," Zahorodny said in response to this data. The AAP states that all children should be screened for autism by their GP at 18 months and again at 24 months.
Does autism really become more common?
It is unclear whether this increase in autism is due to an increase in diagnosis or an increase in the actual prevalence of autism. Some scientists argue that doctors are better at diagnosing autism, especially in minority groups, and that's why autism numbers have risen.
Thomas Frazier, senior science officer at Autism Speaks, says "there is a significant increase".
Both Frazier and Zahorodny agree that the increase in the diagnosis, while contributing to the prevalence, can not be the only cause. It seems that the increase in autism is significant enough that many psychologists and pediatricians are worried that we will miss a piece of this puzzle.
Laura Shopp, M.D. is a third grader who works at Indiana University and works in the ABC News Medical Unit.