CDC: Prevalence of Autism at Age 4 Years Increasing

Frequency of co-occurring intellectual disabilities higher among children aged 4 years than 8 years

THURSDAY, April 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children aged 4 years increased from 2010 to 2014, according to research published in the April 12 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Deborah L. Christensen, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues examined trends in prevalence and characteristics of ASD in 2010, 2012, and 2014 using data from the Early Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. Data were collected in seven sites during surveillance years 2010, 2012, and 2014.

The researchers found that the overall prevalence of ASD was 13.4, 15.3, and 17.0 per 1,000 children aged 4 years in 2010, 2012, and 2014, respectively. ASD prevalence among children aged 4 years varied across surveillance sites within each surveillance year and was lowest each year for Missouri and highest for New Jersey. Sites that reviewed education and health care records had higher aggregated prevalence estimates compared with sites that reviewed only health care records. Among children aged 4, ASD prevalence was consistently higher among boys than girls. The frequency of co-occurring intellectual disabilities was higher among children aged 4 versus 8 years for each site in each surveillance year except Arizona in 2010.

"Continuing improvements in providing developmental evaluations to children as soon as developmental concerns are identified might result in earlier ASD diagnoses and earlier receipt of services, which might improve developmental outcomes," the authors write.

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