Survey Reveals Big Jump In The Number Of US Kids With Autism Spectrum Disorder

USA Today (11/13, Szabo) reports that the National Health Interview Survey (pdf) “has found a big jump in the number of children with autism, although researchers caution that the increase is likely due to the way that questions were asked.” The “annual survey” now reveals that “more than 2.2% of children ages three to 17 – about one in 45 – have autism.”

The Los Angeles Times (11/13, Healy) reports in “Science Now” that the report, which was prepared by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, points out that “from 2011 to 2013, the National Survey of Children’s Health found that 1.25% of US children had” an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The new figure of 2.24% “reflects changes in surveying techniques designed to prod parents’ memories for past diagnoses their children may have” received. It now “appears parents who in the past would have reported an intellectual disability or other neurocognitive disorder in a child now are more likely to report autism spectrum disorder.”

The AP (11/13, Stobbe) reports that the CDC previously estimated that one in 68 children may have ASD, but “the lower CDC estimate is from researchers checking health and school records for more than 47,000 children.” Nevertheless, “the one in 68 [figure] will still be treated as the best estimate, said Michael Rosanoff, director of public health research for the advocacy group Autism Speaks,” even though “the new number supports a belief that one in 68 is an underestimate, he added.”

The NBC News (11/13, Fox) website reports that the new “findings fit in with other studies seeking to show whether autism is actually occurring more frequently, or simply being recognized and diagnosed more often.” Recently, researchers from Penn State University “also found that children are being reclassified from something broad, like pervasive developmental disorder, to the more specific autism.” Bloomberg News (11/13, Tozzi) and LiveScience (11/13, Nierenberg) also cover the story.

Related Links:

— “Study finds more than 2% of children have autism,” Liz Szabo, USA Today, November 13, 2015.

Posted in In The News.