Rate of kids with autism in Maryland jumps to one in 50

Modesto Morganelli
Aprile 27, 2018

About 1 in 59 children in the United States live with autism spectrum disorder, according to a report published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that tracks autism in 11 communities across the country.

Estimates range from 1 in 34 in New Jersey to 1 in 76 in Arkansas; roughly 1 in 38 boys have autism, outnumbering girls 4-to-1, according to the report.

Autism spectrum disorder, a developmental disability, is characterized by problems with communication and social interaction with accompanying repetitive behavior patterns. "Together we can improve a child's future".

This lag is a serious concern because it can delay the beginning of services these children need.

The CDC collected data at 11 regional monitoring sites that are part of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, including Maryland. The researchers looked at more than 325,000 children who were 8 years old in 2014.

"So since 2000, we've funded between six and 14 sites to use the CDC established methodology to estimate the prevalence and characteristics of autism spectrum disorder in diverse communities throughout the USA", she said. That puts the national rate of autism at 1.7 percent of the childhood population and New Jersey's autism rate at 2.9 percent.

"There were more than 300,000 children living in these communities - about 8% of all 8-year old children living in the US", she said. About half of the study children were diagnosed close to five. "TRIAD's longstanding relationship with state and local educational leaders formed the basis for this work, but ultimately forms a larger and more important foundation aimed at realizing high-quality educational services for children with ASD in Tennessee".

"The higher number of black and Hispanic children now being identified with autism could be due to more effective outreach in minority communities, and increased efforts to have all children screened for autism so they can get the services they need", he added in an agency news release.

The Minnesota study examined health and education records of almost 10,000 children.

Frazier said all children should receive a full developmental screening, including screening for autism, at ages 18 to 24 months and referred to appropriate treatment early for the best possible outcomes.

"It is now clear that what we saw in 2016 was just a pause along the way", said Zahorodny. "And that's really consistent with identifying children who are perhaps at the milder end of the spectrum".

"We need more research into non-genetic triggers for autism".

In 2012, for example, the prevalence was about 20% higher in white children than in black children, and now it's about 10% higher; it was 50% higher in white children compared with Hispanic children, and now it is 20% higher.

"I would have hoped that we could have, by now, identified some of the real factors at play", he said.

The report shows that doctors are doing a better job of detecting autism, Frazier said. "It's a meaningful increase". "For example, people who used to be only diagnosed with mental retardation or an intellectual disability are now also getting an autism diagnosis", he said.

He noted that the male to female ratio decreased in the new report. In Maryland, the rate was one in 31 boys and one in 139 girls.

"Certainly, we're seeing a closing of disparities".

Researchers are still unclear what causes autism, or why it appears to be on the rise.

The report also indicated a need for better programs to help low-functioning children with autism, said Alison Singer, president and co-founder of the Autism Science Foundation.

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