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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.

Go deeper

Dec 4, 2021 - Health

Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says

A health care worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine to a child at a Salvation Army vaccination clinic in Philadelphia on Nov. 12. Photo: Hannah Beier/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pfizer could have data on COVID-19 vaccine efficacy for children under five by the end of the year, CEO Albert Bourla said on Friday in an interview with NBC News.

Why it matters: Omicron has raised concerns that young children are becoming more vulnerable to the virus. Tshwane, the epicenter of South Africa's Omicron outbreak, has seen a high number of hospital admissions for children under two in the last few weeks, though scientists have not confirmed a link to the variant, Reuters reports.

Updated 3 mins ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Driving the news: Local police responded to a 911 call at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, about an hour after the synagogue's 10 a.m. CST Shabbat services, which were being livestreamed on Facebook.

  • The FBI's Dallas Field Office, including crisis negotiators, and Texas Department of Public Safety then spent the next 10-plus-hours working alongside local authorities to resolve the standoff with Akram.
  • Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted around 9:30 p.m. CST, "Prayers answered. All hostages are out alive and safe."

"Around 9 p.m., the HRT — hostage rescue team — breached the synagogue, they rescued the three [remaining] hostages, the suspect is deceased," Miller said. One of the hostages had been released earlier on Saturday.

  • Matt DeSarno, the special agent in charge at the FBI's Dallas Field Office, said Saturday night that the suspect was focused on "one issue that was not specifically threatening to the Jewish community."
  • According to Texas Department of Public Safety, the suspect said he wanted to see Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist, who is serving an 86-year sentence nearby. Siddiqui was convicted in 2010 for assaulting U.S. federal agents, employees and nationals in Afghanistan.

"We strongly condemn the hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX," Siddiqui's attorney Marwa Elbially, said in a statement earlier on Saturday, per CNN. "We implore the hostage taker to immediately release all hostages and turn himself in."

  • "We want to verify that the perpetrator is NOT Dr. Aafia's brother who is a respected architect and member of the community. Whoever the assailant is, we want him to know that his actions are condemned by Dr. Aafia and her family," the statement continued.

What they're saying: "This was an act of terror," President Biden said on Sunday, according to pool reports. The president also said he would be speaking with Rabbi Cytron-Walker.

  • "There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage taker. But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate—we will stand against anti-Semitism and against the rise of extremism in this country," the president said in a statement on Saturday.

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker