A new report on autism rates in the US received heavy coverage in print and online, and was discussed for nearly ten minutes on last night’s national news broadcasts. ABC World News (3/29, story 2, 2:45, Sawyer) reported, “A new report from the Centers of Disease Control shows a big increase in the number of American children diagnosed with autism.”
The CBS Evening News (3/29, story 2, 3:00, Pelley) reports that Dr. Colleen Boyle of the CDC, who “oversaw the study,” said, “No matter what the number is, there’s one thing for certain, and that is that more children are being identified with autism.”
On NBC Nightly News (3/29, lead story, 2:45, Holt), Dr. Boyle, said, “Since 2002, the problems have increased 78%.”
In a second segment on NBC Nightly News (3/29, story 2, 1:10, Holt), Dr. Alanna Levine, of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said, “We need to allocate” research funds “towards finding out what is causing the autism spectrum disorders, and how we can help these children and it can also help communities allocate resources to make sure there are services available for children who need them.”
The AP (3/30, Stobbe) reports, “The CDC study is considered the most comprehensive US investigation of autism prevalence to date. Researchers gathered data from areas in 14 states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.” The report indicates that “one child out of 88 in the US” has “autism or a related disorder.”
USA Today (3/30, Weintraub) reports that the “figures…show a 23% increase in autism spectrum cases from 2006 to 2008, and 78% increase since 2002.” CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, said, “What we do know for certain is autism is common and needs to be effectively served.”
According to the Washington Post (3/30, Brown), the report found that “autism is five times as common in boys as girls (a lopsided ratio found in many other studies).” Researchers also found that “the fraction of autistic children with average or above-average intelligence has risen more than the fraction with ‘intellectual disability.'” Meanwhile, “autism prevalence in Hispanic children is two-thirds that of white children, but it is rising faster in them and in black children than in white ones.”
— “More autism reported, likely from better testing,”Mike Stobbe , AP Associated Press, March 29, 2012.