CDC: Autism Prevalence Is 3 Times Higher Than 20 Years Ago

Rates of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have nearly tripled in the US since 2000, from 0.67% to 1.85%, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers used data from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, a surveillance program that estimates prevalence of ASD among children aged 8 years from 11 states in the US (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin).

Overall, ASD prevalence across all 11 sites in was 18.5 per 1000 children aged 8 years in 2016. ASD was 4.3 times as prevalent among boys as among girls, and prevalence varied by state. While estimates were similar among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Asian/Pacific Islander children, they were lower among Hispanic children.

“These findings from the 2016 ADDM Network indicate considerable variability in ASD prevalence across communities and higher ASD prevalence than previous estimates from the ADDM Network. For the first time, no overall difference in ASD prevalence between black and white children was reported, although disparities in early intervention and identification persist for black children,” the researchers concluded.

“ASD continues to be a public health concern; the latest data from the ADDM Network underscore the ongoing need for timely and accessible developmental assessments, educational supports, and services for persons with ASD and their families.”

—Michael Potts

Maenner MJ, Shaw KA, Baio J, et al. Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years — autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, 11 sites, United States, 2016. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2020;69(4);1-12. doi:10.15585/mmwr.ss6904a1