Dec 2, 2021 - Health

CDC: Data suggests 1 in 44 children diagnosed with autism

Picture of the empire state building

The Empire State Building is lit in blue in honor of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, 2021. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images for Autism Speaks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its statistics on autism spectrum disorder, now showing that more children get diagnosed with the condition and at younger ages.

By the numbers: About 1 in 44 8-year-old children have been diagnosed with autism, according to a recent CDC study analyzing 2018 data from 11 states.

  • In 2016, the agency said 1 in 54 children had been diagnosed with autism.

The big picture: The number of people getting diagnosed with autism has been increasing, however, experts believe that is due to increased awareness around the condition.

  • "There’s greater awareness in the community around autism, more training of clinicians, more early childhood educators — that whole effort has increased awareness," Coleen Boyle, former director of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said in 2014.

Details: The study found that although autism diagnoses increased, the proportion of children with autism who also have an intellectual disability has decreased from one-half in 2000 and 2002 to one-third in 2016.

  • The CDC also reported decreased racial and ethnic disparities in autism prevalence and that there were "no overall difference in [autism] prevalence between" white and Black children.
  • However, rates were higher among Black children in Maryland and Minnesota.
  • CDC researchers reported that Hispanic children were less likely to be identified as having autism than white or Black children.

Of note: In Utah, children from low-income families were more likely to get diagnosed than those in wealthier families, when, years before, it was the other way around.

  • Amanda Bakian, who oversees the CDC’s autism surveillance in that state, told AP that that could be due to more autism coverage by Medicaid and other health insurance providers.
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