According to a new government estimate, about 1 in 45 children in the U.S. has autism. The estimate, which comes from researchers at the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), is based on data collected during a yearly survey, from interviews of parents about their children, and is the first report of the prevalence of autism in the U.S. to include data from years 2011 to 2014.
While this looks like a substantial increase from the CDC’s last estimate, which was 1 in 68 children and just announced over the summer, the previous estimate was determined from a different survey that gathers information from children’s medical records and it was based on data collected during 2010.
The reason for this increase may not necessarily be that there are more children with autism than there have been in previous years—meaning, there’s likely no factors such as environmental conditions, etc. that can be causing the increase. Instead, the rate increases could be attributed to growing awareness of autism and more children being more appropriately diagnosed on the spectrum versus other conditions. The way in which data was collected and the questions that were asked of parents have also been restructured a bit, which may have also impacted the data collected. (read more about that here).
And while the 1 in 68 rate will still be treated as the best estimate, the newly reported number can be an indicator that the 1 in 68 is an underestimate.
Lynsey, Community Manager