NEW YORK — March 26, 2020 — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced that 1 in 54 eight-year old children have been identified with autism, a rise from the 1 in 59 rate announced two years ago.
The increased prevalence rate announced today is based on a study of children who were 8 years old in 2016. The 1 in 59 number, reported in 2018, was based on a study of children who were 8 years old in 2014.
“The rise in prevalence is concerning, but more concerning to us right now is the fact that children with autism are sheltering in place due to coronavirus, and many are suffering tremendously due to severe disruptions in their routine and lack of access to mandated therapeutic services,” said Alison Singer, President of the Autism Science Foundation.
She continued: “The change from 59 to 54 is important, but right now we are focused on supporting every family’s ‘1.’ All families are facing obstacles, but our autism families are facing unique and unprecedented challenges far beyond what is typically being experienced in this country.”
The widespread social distancing initiatives are also impacting research efforts, according to Dr. Alycia Halladay, Chief Science Officer at the Autism Science Foundation.
“Universities across the country are understandably shuttered, which means that the majority of clinical research has decelerated and the pace of progress through which we will learn how to best treat children with autism has slowed just at the time that we learn prevalence has increased. At ASF, we are committed to supporting all autism families and all autism scientists during this challenging time.”
Other key points from the CDC Report include:
- Boys were four times more likely to be identified with autism than girls.
- Girls identified with autism were more likely to have an intellectual disability than boys.
- Prevalence was the same in white and black children. Hispanic children are identified at a lower rate than black or white children.
- A second report focused on 4-year-old children indicated that 84% of 4-year-olds had received a first developmental screening by 36 months, compared to 74% in the report two years ago. This screening increase is important because the earlier children are identified with autism, the sooner they can start receiving services.
- Black and Hispanic children received evaluations at older ages than white children.
Forefront Communications for Autism Science Foundation
This week a 5 country collaboration including the largest number of people EVER revealed 80% of the causes of autism are heritable. This is incredibly important to understand autism and move forward with research that matters to families. What it did not do was calculate the role of gene x environment interactions which seems to be the forgotten stepchild of autism research. This week’s #ASFpodcast explains why it is important to understand the heritability while at the same time study the combined effects of genetic and environmental factors.
This week a 5 country collaboration including the largest number of people EVER revealed 80% of the causes of autism are heritable. This is incredibly important to understand autism and move forward with research that matters to families. What it did not do was calculate the role of gene x environment interactions which seems to be the forgotten stepchild of autism research. This week’s #ASFpodcast explains why it is important to understand the heritability while at the same time study the combined effects of genetic and environmental factors. Listen to the podcast here.
You may have heard on the internet that a new “radical” treatment leads to a “50% reduction” in autism symptoms. This radical treatment is fecal transplants, which is taking the bacteria from the feces from one person and putting them in another person. This is a still experimental treatment, and while the microbiome should be researched more in regards to its relationship to autism, there might be a less invasive way to alter the microbiome which could stand up to the rigor of a well designed trial. Also this week, new prevalence data on 4 year olds across multiple years. Did it change across time, and is it different from 8 year olds, and why is this difference important? Listen to the podcast here.
Don’t be fooled, not all the studies on this week’s podcast focus on the DSM5. But the first one, a review of a meta analysis and review of the dozens of publications that have emerged in the past 5 years around the DSM5 leads us off. There are some people that weren’t captured by either DSM5 or Social Communication Disorder that need a diagnosis, and that should be the focus of future research. A new topic of diagnosis is also explored by a large collaboration is addressed: diagnosis in cousins. They do show a higher probability of an autism diagnosis, but not as high as first degree siblings. Finally, a new tool called JAKE in monitoring treatment effectiveness is presented. This could be used not just in the clinic but at home. It includes monitoring of biological and behavioral features, and might be the next big thing in outcomes for treatment studies. Listen to the podcast here.