Pharmacy News

Autism prevalence higher in CDC’s monitoring network

New data from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) network show that 2.3% of children aged 8 years in 11 communities across the United States had an autism diagnosis in 2018.

A previous estimate, published in March 2020, found a prevalence of 1.9% among children that age. The new findings are published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Surveillance Summaries.

A second report involving children aged 4 years in the same 11 communities noted progress in the early identification of children with autism.

According to the report, these children were 50% more likely to receive a diagnosis of autism or a special education classification by age 48 months compared with children aged 8 years.

“The substantial progress in early identification is good news because the earlier that children are identified with autism, the sooner they can be connected to services and support,” said Karen Remley, MD, director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “Accessing these services at younger ages can help children do better in school and have a better quality of life.”

However, the new data show racial and ethnic differences in autism diagnoses in some of the 11 communities studied. There were also community differences in autism prevalence, with rates ranging from 1.7% among children in Missouri to 3.9% in California. The variations could be the result of how communities are identifying children with autism.

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