Autism prevalence continues to rise

Quinn, an autistic boy, and the line of toys he made before falling asleep. Repeatedly stacking or lining up objects is a behavior commonly associated with autism. Credit: Wikipedia.

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the estimated prevalence of autism among 8-year-olds in New Jersey rose in the latest reporting year, 2010, to nearly 22 children per thousand, or approximately one child in 45. That figure represents the "highest ever reported for a single site" since the CDC started closely monitoring 11 U.S. states in 2000.

Walter Zahorodny, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, has compiled New Jersey's numbers from the start – and seen them more than double in a decade.

Rutgers Today: There once was a theory that New Jersey's autism numbers were higher than elsewhere because the state's educators and are unusually good at detecting signs that a is on the spectrum. Was that thinking valid?

Zahorodny: This state does have some of the best resources anywhere for detecting and caring for autism, but if the higher documented prevalence were only due to better detection, sooner or later the numbers would plateau and other states would catch up. That hasn't happened. In 2002, the prevalence in New Jersey translated to one child in 94. In 2006, it was one child in 57. The latest numbers show one child in 45. We need to start acknowledging that what once was a rare disorder now affects two percent of the state's , and unfortunately I think the numbers will continue to rise.

Rutgers Today: Should people be worried about living here?

Zahorodny: There is nothing to suggest that anything in the environment is causing higher autism prevalence. If anything, New Jersey's environmental quality has improved in the past decade. Also, children born in February are no different from kids born in September. Some conditions with environmental triggers, like allergies in the spring and flu in the winter, run in seasonal cycles. There is nothing to suggest that for autism.

I think it has much more to do with demographics – the people the state attracts. Many people here are more affluent and better educated than elsewhere, and those people tend to marry each other and have children later in life. It is considered a risk factor for autism if both the mother and father are older when the child is born.

It's also very likely that our findings apply beyond New Jersey. The same demographic profile exists in counties throughout the New York metro area, and I would expect that if those areas were monitored as closely as we have studied New Jersey, their autism prevalence would be found to be similar.

Rutgers Today: Does anything else stand out in the latest findings about autism?

Zahorodny: There are far more boys than girls on the autism spectrum, and that gap has widened. In 2000, the ratio of boys to girls was 3.4 to 1. By 2010, the ratio was 5 to 1. White children are more likely to be on the spectrum than black or Hispanic children. And the percentage of children found with autism who have average to high intelligence is rising. A decade ago, only a third of children with autism had IQ scores of 70 or above. Now nearly half do.

There's also a number that speaks well of New Jersey. In 2010, the median age when first diagnosed of children here with spectrum disorder was three years and four months. In two of the other states surveyed, that age approached six years. Earlier detection leads to more effective treatment, and children here are more fortunate in that regard than in most of the other states.

Explore further

US autism estimate rises to one in 68 children (Update)

More information: The complete CDC report is available online: … htm?s_cid=ss6302a1_e
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Mar 28, 2014
Walter Zahorodny, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, has compiled New Jersey's numbers from the start – and seen them more than double in a decade.

Genetic modified foods.

There are people having children now who were conceived or very small children after the introduction of BT corn and other similar products, so that is two generations of exposure, in some cases, to these man-made toxins in our food.

What else correlates to the past decade besides 9/11? That's not even in the same state.

GM food is the Asbestos of the 21st century. I hope to God that I am wrong, but I can't think of any other candidate right off hand.

Consider, diabetes and obesity epidemic too, and not all of that can be explained by sedentary lifestyles. Lifestyles haven't changed THAT much since the late 1980's and early 1990's, though we know it has certainly changed. But people were spending hours in front of the television on early video games and such then...

Mar 28, 2014
So we have two serious health issues which have gotten worse in the past decade or so, even though initially the benefits of removing unleaded gasoline were observable.

What changed systemically?

Genetic modified foods. Genetic modified cotton for clothing.

Introduction of new recreational drugs; I am sure this was controlled for in the study so that should be a non-issue.

In terms of air pollution, Emission standards in general have improved.

What else got worse besides GM food?

Mass introduction of several brands of anti-depressants, as well as "tell your doctor what medicine to prescribe" ads, since patients diagnose illnesses because doctors don't seem to be qualified to do so. It takes 6 months to 2 years or so just to get a correct diagnoses, or even get a doctor to admit something is wrong with a blood test.

Add enough chemical cocktails to everyone's diet and eventually something is going to go wrong.

Mar 29, 2014
Autism is not a disease - it is not a disability. It is the state of a mind caused by an overgrowth in synaptic neurons (the latest science) which results in more information being available to the brain than the brain can parse in the average amount of time others parse their inputs.

Why it appears as a disability in some is in two parts: 1) there are people with genuine mental infirmity which also happen to have "too much" input and are therefore *also* autistic, and 2) if the cause of the brain's inability to parse information is the result of a restriction in development or function in the parsing area (to me that feels like the band between the frontal and parietal (rear) lobes which extends like a slice to the temporal lobe and thalmus (deep center)

An autistic brain will develop normally when it is free from chemical and personal stress, and properly nourished and stimulated by human interaction. The rise in autism is linked to toxins and changes in the home environment.

Mar 29, 2014
When modern anthropology becomes concerned with autism we will have all the answers we seek. We have more chemicals and fewer positive inputs with our children today, and they are exposed far earlier to deeply upsetting or age-inappropriate compelling subjects.

Mar 31, 2014
Genetic modified foods

If that were the cause, the incidence of autism should have changed less or not at all in Europe, where Gm food is either unpopular or often not even sold. Yet the incidence has risen.
The rise in rate of diagnosed autism is evident in studies in the United Kingdom, in the USA, in Scandinavia, and in Japan. For example, the rate of autism in children born during 1977 to 1979 in a particular geographic area in Wales was 3.3 per 10000, whereas that for children born during the period 1987 to 1989 was 9.2 per 10000. The detailed findings show that the main rise occurred in the early 1980s, with little change thereafter. Magnusson and Saemundsen, using a clinical case register data in Iceland, estimated a prevalence rate of autism plus atypical autism of 4.2 per 10000 for children born in 1974 to 1983 and 13.2 for those born in 1984 to 1993.

From http://onlinelibr...111/j.16

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