CDC Says 1 in 88 Have Autism. Is the Number Really 1 in 47?
On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control significantly moved up estimates of how many young children suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). With previous numbers averaging 1 in 110, the startling, new CDC study of 8-year-olds indicates 1 in 88 may have some form of Autism.
CDC researchers analyzed tens of thousands of health and special-education records in 14 states, looking for any child who had a diagnosis of Autism, or at least symptoms that, when observed together, would warrant such a diagnosis. Out of over 337,000 kids, they found 3,800 of them dealing with some form of the disorder.
Some Autism researchers cite greater public awareness of the disorder as a possible cause for the increase in numbers, as parents are requesting diagnoses earlier and earlier. Seattle Children's Autism Center Director Dr. Bryan King said the growing numbers weren't news to his office. "We're up against a tidal wave of need," said King, citing the steady increase in caseload numbers.
To be sure, the 1 in 88 (an official 23% increase over two years ago) is worrisome, especially to those who believe the range of disorders is tied to environmental factors (food additives, immunizations, pollution, and more). But what if the actual numbers are much, much higher even than what the CDC reports?
States like Utah and New Jersey, who spend the most on identifying which of its children have ASD, have the highest frequency (1 in 47 and 1 in 49, respectively). Alabama, known for spending the least on Autism detection in its population, has a reported number much lower than the national average, or 1 in 208, according to a Seattle Times article. If Alabama spent as much as Utah, would their numbers also be 1 in 47? Would every state have such high numbers if spending were equalized in ASD detection?
The CDCs numbers were only as good as the diagnoses and health records they studied. The fewer visits to a health care worker, the less likely children with ASD symtoms would have been identified, particularly in impoverished states.Continued on the next page