Study estimates one in 91 individuals have autism

November 4, 2009 By Laura Smith

( -- Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental disorders marked by impaired social interactions, restricted interests, repetitive behaviors, and communication impairment, which persist throughout a person's lifetime. The ASD prevalence rate--the number of individuals diagnosed with autism--has been steadily increasing over time.

A new report from the U.S. Department of Health’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), based on a phone survey of over 78,000 families, set the prevalence rate at nearly one in 91 . This is an increase from the prior statistic of one in 150 children reported in 2007 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the HRSA report, more than 1 percent of children are now living with . The article, published in this month’s issue of Pediatrics, found boys were four times more likely to have ASD than girls, a difference consistent with prior population-based studies. Additionally, white and Hispanic children are about twice as likely to have ASD as black and multiracial children.

HRSA attributes the rising prevalence rate to increasing awareness among health care providers and the general public in recent years. Better understanding of the signs and symptoms of ASD exist, and more services are available for diagnosis and treatment leading to increased and earlier diagnosis.

Researchers also believe that there are more people living with ASD than in the past. In other words, clinicians are not only better at diagnosing ASD, but there are also more people to diagnose. Further, for ASD have recently been expanded to include high functioning individuals with autism or Asperger’s Disorder, who might not have been identified in the past.

There is a critical need to identify children with autism at a very young age so they can access evidence-based interventions that can significantly improve their outcomes and that will financially benefit society by reducing the need for costly services later in life.

Provided by Pennsylvania State University (news : web)

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not rated yet Nov 06, 2009
My husband and I have an adopted son whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. In other words, he has brain injury and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). He is exceptionally bright and after years of intensive therapy, he is doing well in school and life (he's 9); however, he has many deficit areas that to the untrained eye look like autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) such as language delays, auditory processing problems, sensory integration problems, difficulties with emotional regulation and social disabilities. How many of these children that are being called autistic are actually FASD and children who were born to mothers who thought it was safe to drink during pregnancy, even modestly? It appears to me that autism is a much more acceptable diagnosis today (as it has no confirmed cause) than to admit you drank during pregnancy and caused this life-long damage to your child. Researchers need to look into this question.
not rated yet Nov 08, 2009
That is a good point and it's very similar to the mis-diagnosis of ADD. FASD is not very common though no matter how much the mother drinks. It's about 1 in 50,000 which on the grand scheme of things when considering a population of 6 billion is still very high. 1 - 91 is very scary though as my imagination could think of a future where everyone has severe social disorders.

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