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CDC reports increase in autism on World Autism Day

autismToday is World Autism Day and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published new data estimating that one in 88 children in the United States has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder.

The information released last week was based on data collected in 14 areas of the United States, including Maryland, by the Autism and Development Disabilities Monitoring Network. The study comprised of over eight percent of the United States population of 8-year-olds in 2008. Eight is when most children on the Autism spectrum have been identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to the study.

The study results marked a 23 percent increase in children diagnosed with autism since the last report in 2009 and a 78 percent increase since the first report in 2007, the study determined. Some of the increase is due to the way children are indentified, diagnosed and served in their local communities, according to the report. But how much is unknown.

The study also revealed that autism is almost 5 times more common among boys (one on 54) than girls (one in 252).

The largest increases over time were among Hispanic children (110 percent) and black children (91 percent), according to the study. That increase is suspected, in part, because of a greater awareness and better identification among those groups, according to the report. But this only explains part of the increase as more children are being identified in all groups, the study reported.

More children are also being diagnosed at earlier ages—a growing number by age 3, the study reported. But most children are not diagnosed until after they reach age 4.

According to the CDC it is essential to identify the signs and symptoms of autism early. Through the CDC’s program “Learn the Signs, Act Early,” parents can access free tools to help them track their child’s development. The CDC supports the American Academy of Pediatrics in its recommendation that all children be screened by age 2. Early screening and diagnosis improves access to services during a child’s most critical development period.

For details and more information visit the CDC’s website.

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