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Autism Rates Jump 30%, CDC Reports
Medscape Psychiatry & Mental Health
March 27, 2014

More children in the United States have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than previously thought, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports today.

New estimates put the figure at 1 in 68 children aged 8 years (or 14.7 per 1000) ― roughly 30% higher than previous estimates reported in 2012 of 1 in 88 children (11.3 per 1000) having an ASD, the agency said.

"The criteria used to diagnose ASDs and the methods used to collect data have not changed," the CDC noted.

The new estimates are published in the March 28 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"The number of children identified with autism continues to rise," Coleen Boyle, PhD, director of CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said during a telebriefing with reporters today.

"Over the last decade, the most notable change in the characteristics of children identified with autism is the growing number who have average or above average intelligence, from one third in 2002 to nearly 50% in 2010," Dr. Boyle said.

"To better understand why, there is an urgent need to do more research. It could be that doctors are getting better at identifying these children. There could be a growing number of children with autism and higher intellectual ability, or it may a combination of better recognition and increased prevalence," she added.

The new estimates are based on 2010 data from 11 sites participating in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, an active surveillance system that provides estimates of the prevalence of ASD and other characteristics among children aged 8 years.

They chose age 8 because "most children who are diagnosed with autism will be diagnosed by age 8, based on previous data," Dr. Boyle explained.

For 2010, the overall prevalence of ASD among the ADDM sites was 14.7 per 1000 (1 in 68) children aged 8 years.

Overall ASD prevalence estimates varied among sites from 5.7 to 21.9 per 1000 children. ASD prevalence estimates also varied by sex and racial/ethnic group.

The data continue to show that ASD is almost 5 times more common among boys than girls: 1 in 42 boys vs 1 in 189 girls. White children are more likely to be identified as having ASD than are black or Hispanic children, the CDC said.

Among the 7 sites with sufficient data on intellectual ability, 31% of children with ASD were classified as having IQ scores in the range of intellectual disability (IQ ≤ 70), 23% in the borderline range (IQ = 71 - 85), and 46% in the average or above average range of intellectual ability (IQ > 85).

"The study found that almost half of children identified with ASD have average or above average intellectual ability (an IQ above 85) compared to a third of children a decade ago," the CDC said.

"Community leaders, health professionals, educators and childcare providers should use these data to ensure children with ASD are identified as early as possible and connected to the services they need," said Dr. Boyle.

The CDC said most children with ASD are diagnosed after age 4, even though ASD can be diagnosed as early as age 2. Healthy People 2020, the nation's 10-year health objectives, strives to increase the proportion of young children with ASD and other developmental delays who are screened, evaluated, and enrolled in early intervention services in a timely manner.

The most important thing for parents to do is to act early when there is a concern about a child's development," said Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, MD, chief of CDCs Developmental Disabilities Branch.

New Initiative Announced
Katherine C. Beckman, PhD, MPH, of the US Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, announced a new "unprecedented" government-backed initiative launching today that will encourage developmental and behavioral screening for autism and provide support for children, families, and providers who care for children with autism.

The so-called Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! program will help families look for and celebrate milestones; promote universal screenings; identify delays as early as possible; and improve the support available to help children succeed in school and thrive alongside their peers, she noted.

The program features "a compendium of first-line research-based screening tools that meet specific quality inclusion criteria [and] an array of resources" for multiple audiences, including early care and education providers, pediatricians, child welfare case workers, families, and communities, Dr. Beckman said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is a partner in the initiative.

"The AAP is working to help make pediatric practices more equipped to provide ongoing care to the many children with autism," James Perrin, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP, said in a statement. "These rising rates [announced today] certainly underscore the need to improve our understanding of the causes of autism and to work on prevention," he added.

"The prevalence data makes even more important the Academy's focus on early screening, identification, and referral for intervention for all children and our work to support collaborative medical homes for children, youth, and adults with autism spectrum disorder," added Susan Hyman, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP autism subcommittee.

"It's critical that we as a society do not become numb to these numbers," Dr. Hyman said. "They remind us of the work we need to do in educating clinicians and parents in effective interventions for all children, including those with developmental disabilities."

Source: MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. Published online March 27, 2014.


MVP, Forum Supporter
I am so glad the diagnostic criteria is evolving and getting better being a parent and not being sure what it is you are dealing with is sooooooooo stressful but what people need to remember is these children grow up and become adults many with the exact same issues as they had in childhood and to me while pediatric services are getting it together no one has thought this far down the line...

Even getting my son the help he needed at hospital was coloured by it and no-one really seemed able to understand the difficulties he faced in just communicating...he is an adult now and people expect adult behaviour and it is not always possible with autism and I do fear for some of the more unsavory issues life throws at us as adults and these kids once they grow up.

Society just does not understand yet!


It would seem that going forward in working with children with Autism, that the earlier the disorder can be detected allowing for early intervention and training, the better their potential outcome.

How is your son doing now?


MVP, Forum Supporter
Well his spleen is blocked... and looks like that is how it will stay but everything else is looking good glands are all back to nearly normal size and no signs of active disease so the plan WAS to stent the spleen but they have had a few experts look at a massive amount of scanning they did and they have said that basically all the blood vessels around his spleen are compensating for the blockage... so...the back of the stomach etc is involved and that they will monitor this every six months...because it is swing and roundabouts with regard the intervention of a stent versus complete removal.

Both procedures would carry risks due to the vascular issues so they have pretty much said they would rather take it out should the spleen start to deteriorate or the vessels start to bulge more...

So in summary an ultra sound on his abdomen every six months and endoscopy yearly and hopefully that is it...all the signs are looking good no issues since his rounds of radiotherapy in august so they said that because he had both a slow growing and fast growing forms of lymphoma they have given a time frame of 5 years rather than 2 years for being considered successful and complete remission...which made him a bit difficult to live with...but the statistics are if it doesn't come back in the first two years the outlook is good the hospital are just being cautious which I can understand.

So his birthday is soon and it is such a nice sensation to think the worst is behind us!

It has changed him on a physiological level...he tires more...tends to get run down and lethargic...his joints ache etc so it is a case of us getting used to a new son in some ways but it is a small price to pay for him still being with us...


I agree the stats seem to cry out for more investigation (e.g., wrt sex and race differences, changes in intelligence rates over time, rising rates). I have also read of a study (before recent autism re-definitions if memory serves) suggesting higher rates of autism linked to living in counties (in the US) where manufacturing companies produced or heavily used various toxins (esp. wrt child development). Sorry, I don't remember the kinds of toxins or other details other than that detox and dietary methods seemed to have helped an encouraging chunk of the pie in varying degrees. Others suggest more investigation into links between autism and changing (over the last several decades and more recently) vaccination protocols and practices is needed (or at least some of them) despite studies suggesting no link ... while there is heavy political and big-corp interest in concluding no link.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Others suggest more investigation into links between autism and changing (over the last several decades and more recently) vaccination protocols and practices is needed (or at least some of them) despite studies suggesting no link ... while there is heavy political and big-corp interest in concluding no link.

1. There is a mountain of research showing that clearly that there is no link - zero link - between vaccines and autism. Repeated studies by multiple independent research units make it impossible for any thinking and informed individual to hold on to that old claim. Further, re-examination of the sources of that claim show that earlier research claiming to support that claim was either totally faked or fatally flawed.

2. There is no "heavy political and big-corp interest in concluding no link". Vaccination is NOT a moneymaker for anyone, other than saving the costs of needless medical and hospital intervention for the unvaccinated.

3. Thanks to the outrageous antics of "anti-vaxxers", the per capita rates of vaccination have been falling steadily in many parts of the world while autism rates in those same areas are increasing. Again, any thinking and informed person cannot possibly conclude that the increase in autism is the result of vaccination when the rates of those two factors are going in opposite directions.

4. Because of the hysterics and self-promoting rhetoric of anti-vaxxers, children and others are now being affected by and disabled or dying from diseases which 20 years ago had been all but eradicated. It serves no good purpose at this point to continue to propagate the anti-vaccine hysteria and I certainly will NOT allow this website to contribute to such absolute nonsense.


Account Closed
Totally agree with this post Dr. Baxter. Thank you for posting this. If those interested really look at the research findings on the factors and causes for Autism, they will also find out that the identified or currently researched risk factors and triggers have 0 connection to vaccines.
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