The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today that 1 in 88 children in the United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study, which examined 2008 data from 14 different communities across the country, also found that autism is almost five times more common among boys than girls – with 1 in 54 boys identified. The largest increases in diagnoses from the last report--published in 2009--were among Hispanic and African American children.
"One thing the data tells us with certainty – there are many children and families who need help," said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden in a statement. "We must continue to track autism spectrum disorders because this is the information communities need to guide improvements in services to help children."
Early diagnosis is on the increase, and key to the ultimate success of interventions and treatments, the report finds. More effort should go into early diagnosis, said Coleen Boyle, director of CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities: "Unfortunately, 40 percent of the children in this study aren't getting a diagnosis until after age 4. We are working hard to change that."
If parents are concerned that their child may have an ASD, the CDC recommends three steps to take:
- Talk to your child's doctor about your concerns.
- Call your local early intervention program or school system for an assessment.
- Remember you do not need a diagnosis to access services for your child.
Image: Parent and child holding hands, via Shutterstock.