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CDC: Autism Diagnosed in 1 in 68 American Children

Update Date: Mar 28, 2014 09:20 AM EDT

The latest federal report revealed that the number of autism cases within the United States have spiked by 30 percent. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calculated that now, one in 68 children has autism.

"We look at all of the characteristics of autism," Coleen Boyle, the director of the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, explained reported by CNN. "So we look at the age in which they're identified. We look at their earliest diagnosis. We look at co-occurring conditions that these children might have, other developmental disabilities, whether or not they have intellectual disability, so essentially their IQ."

The researchers had access to the health and educational data on more than 5,600 eight-year-olds from 11 states. The children were born in 2002. The states included Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin. The lowest incidence rate was seen in Alabama where one in 175 children had autism. In New Jersey, however, one in 45 kids had autism, which was the highest incidence rate calculated in the study.

Overall, the CDC estimated that nation's autism rate is one in 68. Once again, autism cases were more common in boys than girls. Boys had an incidence rate of one in 42, which is 4.5 times higher than girls. Aside from examining incidence rates, the researchers also measured children's IQ (intelligence quotient). They found that more autistic children today tend to have IQs that are average or above average than in the past.

This study also reported that autism continued to be diagnosed at a later time. The children from the study were diagnosed at an average age of four when researchers know that autism can be detected by the age of two. Even though an early diagnosis will not cure the disease, it could greatly change how the child responds to treatment. The researchers did not look into why more children are being diagnosed with the disorder.

"We need to continue our efforts to educate the health care community and general public to recognize the developmental problems associated with ASD and other developmental disorders at earliest age possible, so that intervention can be initiated, bad habits can be avoided and families will know what's wrong with their child," said Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland.

Boyle added, according to Philly, "More is understood about autism than ever before...but these numbers are an important reminder of the need for answers."

The report, "Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years - Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010," can be found here.

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