CDC: 1 in 68 Children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Date Published: 
March 27, 2014
Proportion of children with ASD and above average IQ on the rise
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today reported that 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. This new estimate is roughly 30 percent higher than previous estimates reported in 2012 of 1 in 88 children. The number of children identified with ASD ranged from 1 in 175 children in Alabama to 1 in 45 children in New Jersey. 
 
The surveillance summary report, “Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Children Aged 8 Years – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010,” was published today in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.  Researchers reviewed records from community sources that educate, diagnose, treat and/or provide services to children with developmental disabilities. 
 
The data continue to show that ASD is almost five times more common among boys than girls:  1 in 42 boys versus 1 in 189 girls. White children are more likely to be identified as having ASD than are black or Hispanic children.
 
Levels of intellectual ability vary greatly among children with autism, ranging from severe intellectual challenges to average or above average intellectual ability.  The study found that almost half of children identified with ASD have average or above average intellectual ability (an IQ above 85) compared to a third of children a decade ago.
 
"The data are important because they help us plan for the types of services we should be building based on the needs of the kids" said Alison Singer, President of the Autism Science Foundation.  "People with autism and intellectual disability have very different services and supports needs than people with autism who don't have intellectual disability.  The data also drive research . We learned nothing from this data about what causes autism or what causes different types of autism, but the data provide important clues about how we should be approaching those questions."
 
The report also shows most children with ASD are diagnosed after age 4, even though ASD can be diagnosed as early as age 2. 
 
“The most important thing for parents to do is to act early when there is a concern about a child’s development,”said Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, M.D., chief of CDC’s Developmental Disabilities Branch. “If you have a concern about how your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, or moves, take action. Don’t wait.”