Changes in Autism Spectrum Disorder Prevalance in 4 Areas in the United States

Published July 1, 2010 in Diability and Health Journal, Rice et al

Study sought to describe autism spectrum disorder (ASD) population characteristics and changes in identified prevalence across 3 time periods. Children with a potential ASD were identified through records abstraction at multiple sources with clinician review based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR) criteria. Multisite, population-based data from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network were analyzed from areas of Arizona (AZ), Georgia (GA), Maryland (MD), and South Carolina (SC). Participants were 8-year-old children (born in 1992, 1994, or 1996) in 2000, 2002, or 2004 (and children born in 1988 residing in metropolitan Atlanta in 1996) who had been evaluated for a variety of developmental concerns at education and/or health sources. There was a trend toward increase in identified ASD prevalence among 8-year-old children who met the surveillance case definition in 3 of the 4 study sites from 2000 to 2004. Some of the observed increases are due to improved ascertainment; however, a true increase in ASD symptoms cannot be ruled out. These data confirm that the prevalence of ASDs is undergoing significant change in some areas of the United States and that ASDs continue to be of urgent public health concern.

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