The number of children being diagnosed with autism by the time they turn 8 years old has increased slightly, according to a biennial report on autism in kids from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One in 54 children had a diagnosis of autism by age 8 in 2016, an increase from 2014 when it was one in 59 children, according to the report.
The report was based on an analysis of 2016 medical and/or school records of 8-year olds from 11 monitoring sites across the United States.
Other findings of the report included:
- While the CDC found no difference in prevalence rates between black and white children, a gap remains in prevalence among Hispanic children, indicating a need to expand screening and intervention among this group. Further, black and Hispanic children identified with autism received evaluations at older ages than similar white children, again indicating that more needs to be done in this area.
- The number of children who had a developmental screening by age 3 increased from 74% to 84%, a sign of potential progress toward earlier and more consistent screening by health care providers.
- Boys are four times as likely to be diagnosed as girls, holding steady from previous reports. This indicates the need for more research to understand the gap in prevalence and ensure girls on the spectrum are receiving the care they need.
- Significant differences remain in the frequency of autism diagnosis between the CDC’s monitoring sites. These range from a low of 1 in 76 in Colorado to a high of 1 in 32 in New Jersey. This may be due to how autism is diagnosed and documented in different communities.
For a detailed summary of Autism Speaks interpretation of the new findings, please visit autismspeaks.org.