THURSDAY, March 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was 18.5 per 1,000 among children aged 8 years and 15.6 per 1,000 children aged 4 years in 2016, according to two surveillance summaries published in the March 27 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Matthew J. Maenner, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues estimated the prevalence of ASD among children aged 8 years whose parents or guardians live in 11 Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) sites. The researchers found that the prevalence of ASD was 18.5 per 1,000 children aged 8 years across all 11 sites for 2016; ASD was 4.3 times more prevalent among boys than girls. The prevalence estimates were similar for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Asian/Pacific Islander children and were lower for Hispanic children (18.5, 18.3, 17.9, and 15.4, respectively).
Kelly A. Shaw, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues examined the prevalence and early identification of ASD among children aged 4 years using data from the Early ADDM Network. The researchers found that the overall prevalence of ASD was 15.6 per 1,000 children aged 4 years in 2016. Eighty-four percent of children aged 4 years with ASD had a first evaluation at ≤36 months. For this group, the median age at first evaluation and diagnosis was 26 and 33 months, respectively .
"Some of the increase in autism prevalence might be due to the way children are identified, diagnosed, and receiving services in their communities," said Stuart Shapira, M.D., Ph.D., associate director for science at the CDC National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. "The increase may also reflect reductions in racial differences in identification of autism, as this is the first ADDM Network report to identify black 8-year-olds with autism as having the same rates as white children."
One author from the Maenner study disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. One author from both studies disclosed ties to Western Psychological Services.