How Common Is Autism?

A report by the Communicable Disease Center (CDC), a government agency, published March 28, 2014, estimates that 1 in 68 US children has autism spectrum disorder, a 30% increase from the CDC’s estimate of 1 in 88 in 2008. The disorder is more prevalent in boys than girls. The increased prevalence may be secondary to improved clinician identification and a growing number of autistic children with average to above average intellectual ability or a combination of both factors. Autism is recognized as a spectrum, no longer limited to the severely affected. It can be diagnosed by the time a child reaches 2, and parents are urged to take action if their child shows any developmental delay. The CDC will launch an awareness initiative called “Birth to Five: Watch Me Thrive.” Most children with autism are not diagnosed until after age 4.

The CDC cited several limitations to the report, and these new numbers need to be confirmed.

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