health brief

Rise in Children With Autism

CDC Partially Attributes to Improved Screening Access

Rise in Children With Autism - Maryna_Auramchuk/ShutterStock.com
Maryna_Auramchuk/ShutterStock.com

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated statistics on the rate of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which has been on the rise. The data is based on reviews of developmental evaluations and records from medical and educational service providers.

One in 36 children was diagnosed with autism by age 8 in 2020, or about 2.8 percent of children, up from one in 44 children in 2018 and one in 150 children in 2000, when the CDC first began tracking ASD prevalence in this country. Autism was also 3.8 times as prevalent among boys as girls, and for the first time the prevalence was slightly lower among white children compared to other racial and ethnic groups, which is a reversal of racial and ethnic differences observed in the past.However, Black children with ASD remain more likely than white children with ASD to have a co-occurring intellectual disability.

The CDC partially attributes these patterns to improved screening, awareness and access to services. They highlight the importance of accessible and equitable ASD diagnostic treatment and services for children of different backgrounds and call for more research to comprehend the emergence of diagnostic differences across states.

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