U.S. Autism Rate

March 30, 2012 by staff 

U.S. Autism Rate, About one in 88 children in the United States has autism or a related disorder, the highest estimate to date and one that is sure to revive a national argument over how the condition is diagnosed and treated.

The estimate released on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention represents an overall increase of about 25 percent since the lastanlysis in 2006 and a near-doubling of the rate reported in 2002.

Among boys, the rate of autism spectrum disorders is one in 54, almost five times that of girls, in whom the rate is one in 252.

“One thing the data tells us with certainty – there are many children and families who need help,” CDC Director Thomas Frieden said at a press conference.

The reported spike in the prevalence of autism and related disorders raised questions about whether it is real or an artifact of greater awareness that has led parents, teachers, and even health-care providers to see symptoms of autism in children who would not have received the diagnosis a generation ago.

If it is real, that suggests that some change in the environment might be responsible. In recent years suspicion has focused on everything from mercury, a known neurotoxin, in air and food, to the increasing age of new mothers and fathers.

There is a good possibility that much of the reported increase in the prevalence of autism is illusory, however. When asked about this during the news conference, CDC’s Frieden pointed out that “doctors have gotten better at diagnosing the condition and communities have gotten better at providing services, so I think we can say it is possible that the increase is the result of better detection.”

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