New Study in Pediatrics Puts Autism Prevalence At 1 In 91 American Children, 1 In 58 Boys

(Courtesy of Autism Speaks)

A new study published today in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal Pediatrics found a parent-reported autism prevalence rate of one in every 91 American children, including one in 58 boys. The Prevalence of Parent-Reported Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children in the United States, 2007 used data gathered as part of the 2007 National Survey of ChildrenÕs Health (NSCH), a national survey directed and funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the NSCH study, more than 78,000 parents of children aged 3 to 17 years were asked whether their child currently had an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis including autism, Asperger's syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder, or another ASD or whether their child had been given that diagnosis in the past, but was no longer diagnosed with ASD.

People may ask Does this mean the official rate of autism is no longer 1 in every 150? Historically, Autism Speaks has always sourced its autism prevalence number from the official CDC estimate (1 in 150 since 2007). During a briefing Friday, the CDC announced that an updated report from their Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network would be released by the end of the year. Most importantly, they indicated that their preliminary results show approximately 1% of children in their study have an ASD, a number that is significantly higher than previous levels. Since the ADDM study is not expected to be published for several months, we do not believe the official CDC estimate will change until that time.

Although the research methods between the ADDM study and the NSCH study are vastly different, previous parent-reported autism estimates from national surveys (2003 NSCH and the 2003-04 NHIS) have been consistent with the findings of the CDC's ADDM network of 66/10,000 (1 in 150). Thus, we believe the new autism prevalence number will ultimately end up being around 1% of children in the U.S

These new findings reinforce that autism is an urgent and growing public health crisis that affects most individuals across their lifespan and demands a commensurate level of action from both the public and private sectors.

Read the entire press release from Autism Speaks.