Published On: Fri, Nov 13th, 2015

Autism rate doubles: Child Autism Rate Now 1 in 45

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Autism affects one in 45 children in the United States, almost twice the rate from a few years ago, said a survey Friday. This apparent increase is likely due to a change of questions parents were asked about their child, the study authors said.

“Probably the most important finding of this paper, which is hardly new, is that how one asks a question matters, ” said Dr. Glen Elliott, chief psychiatrist and medical director of Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto, Calif.
The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics in fact found that while autism spectrum diagnoses are more frequent than in the past, the overall number of people affected by neurodevelopmental problems has not risen, but has remained steady over time.

More than 11, 000 families were asked to complete the survey in 2014. They were asked about one child in their household between ages 3 and 17. The parents were asked if a health professional ever told them that their child had autism, Asperger’s disorder, pervasive developmental disorder or autism spectrum disorder.

Slightly more than 2 percent of parents answered yes. That works out to about one in 45 children, the researchers said.

When the survey was given in 2011-2013, one in 80 children was diagnosed with ASD (1.25 percent).

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that may cause a person to have difficulty behaving, learning, communicating and interacting with people. It is believed to be influenced by genetic and environmental factors, though scientists do not fully understand all its causes.

There is no known cure, but early intervention in toddlers as young as two can sometimes help.

Officials changed the order of the questions posed in the latest survey, completed by more than 11, 000 parents, a process that may have resulted in more of them acknowledging a diagnosis of ASD.

More than 11, 000 families were asked to complete the survey in 2014. They were asked about one child in their household between ages 3 and 17. The parents were asked if a health professional ever told them that their child had autism, Asperger’s disorder, pervasive developmental disorder or autism spectrum disorder.

Slightly more than 2 percent of parents answered yes. That works out to about one in 45 children, the researchers said.

“Autism spectrum disorder” has often been a catch-all term for children with social disabilities, language disabilities and other problems, noted Dr. Danelle Fisher, vice chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. As specific definitions have evolved over the past two decades, so has the understanding of different children’s needs and treatments.

“A child with autism may have different symptoms than one with pervasive developmental disorder, who may be different than one with Asperger’s, ” Fisher said. “Treatment may differ or be similar depending on the characteristics observed in each child.”

What hasn’t changed, however, is the need for early intervention to ensure children develop to their greatest potential, Fisher said.

 

 

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