No rise in autism in US in past three years: study

January 2, 2018
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

After more than a decade of steady increases in the rate of children diagnosed with autism in the United States, the rate has plateaued in the past three years, researchers said Tuesday.

The findings were based on a nationwide study in which more than 30,000 parents reported whether or not their had been diagnosed with (ASD).

"The estimated ASD prevalence was 2.41 percent among US children and adolescents in 2014-2016, with no statistically significant increase over the three years," said the research letter by experts at the University of Iowa, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The first observation of a plateau was made by a separate group in 2012, when the rate flattened out to 1.46 percent, according to the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.

Federal health authorities say that means about one in 68 children in the United States have the neurodevelopmental disability, whose causes remain poorly understood.

The ADDM had documented a "continuous increase from 0.67 percent in 2000 to 1.47 percent in 2010."

The 2.4 percent rate described in the JAMA report translate to one in 47 children, but researchers cautioned that the discrepancy may be explained by "differences in study design and participant characteristics."

The JAMA report, based on the annual National Health Interview Survey, did not delve into "underlying causes for the findings and cannot make conclusions about their medical significance."

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also noted a plateau in the rate in 2016, but said it was "too soon to know whether ASD prevalence in the United States might be starting to stabilize."

Explore further: Autism may be overdiagnosed in the United States

More information: Guifeng Xu et al, Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among US Children and Adolescents, 2014-2016, JAMA (2018). DOI: 10.1001/jama.2017.17812

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4 comments

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tblakely1357
not rated yet Jan 02, 2018
Has there really been an increase in autism or just an increase in diagnosing autism?
katesisco
5 / 5 (1) Jan 02, 2018
This seems to be based on what parents were led to believe. The school room is the true indicator. If there are across-the-board standards then the results will be there. What are the results at the end of the 3rd grade?
aksdad
3 / 5 (1) Jan 02, 2018
tblakely1357, likely just an increase in diagnosing it. When I was younger we didn't have a name for it other than "he's weird". Now we have a name for it, autism spectrum disorder. In all that time I've known only 4 people who were clearly autistic, and they were from two families. Genetics or epigenetics appear to be the most significant influence.
rrwillsj
3 / 5 (2) Jan 03, 2018
All three of the previous commentators are correct. Every large population has a multitude of environmental factors, for and against simultaneously.

Then you pile in the crapshoot of genetic complexity and you have a recipe for mass confusion.

Unfortunately there are many fraudulent quacks, bunco artists and anti-science demagogues who prey upon the overwhelmed parents of autistic children.

Those parents of autistic children that I've known, feel guilt and fear of being blamed for the affliction. But genetics is a lot more complicated then the simple-mindeds 'blame game'.

An example is. At my age, I still have a full head of hair. Yet my father (whom I have always strongly resembled) went bald as did the other men in his lineage.

However, my Mother's Father died with a full head of hair. Many genetic quirks such as this example may skip generations. Which leads to the whole dominant and recessive gene mess.

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