CDC: Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders Increasing

Disorders more prevalent in boys; data show ASDs up 23 percent since 2006, 78 percent since 2002

THURSDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- The estimated prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in 2008 was 11.3 per 1,000 children, which shows a marked increase from earlier estimates, according to a report published March 30 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Jon Baio, Ed.S., from the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues used the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network to estimate the prevalence of ASDs among 8-year-old children in 2008 who resided within 14 ADDM sites. Children's evaluation records were examined to identify the presence of ASD symptoms at any time from birth to age 8.

The researchers found that, among the ADDM sites, the overall estimated prevalence of ASDs was 11.3 per 1,000 children, with estimates varying from 4.8 to 21.2 per 1,000 children across sites. The prevalence estimates varied by gender, with about one in 54 boys and one in 252 girls identified with ASDs. The estimated prevalence increased from previous estimates, with a 23 percent increase compared with the 2006 data and a 78 percent increase compared with the 2002 data.

"ASDs continue to be an important public health concern," the authors write. "The findings provided in this report confirm that prevalence estimates of ASD continue to increase in the majority of ADDM Network communities, and ongoing public health surveillance is needed to quantify and understand these changes over time."

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