Published February 8, 2016
It would appear to be a most challenging problem: How can we allow in the essential molecules needed to nourish...
— William Wilberforce
A total of 2.24% of U.S. children (1 in 45 children) aged 3 to 17 years have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to new statistics released by the 2014 National Health Interview Survey. The new figure is up from 1.25% reported from 2011 to 2013. The prevalence of developmental delay fell to 3.57% from 4.84%, while the rate of intellectual disability remained virtually unchanged at 1.1%.1
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attributes the significant jump in autism rates on the new format of the survey, which asked parents about autism before asking them if their child had an “other developmental delay.”1 In other words, the change in the order of the questions in the survey may have influenced parents to more likely report autism.
Regardless of the revised question ordering, the rates of autism have continued to increase dramatically during the past three decades:1
Even though in 2014, the CDC “officially” admitted that 1 in 68 US children eight years old were found to have autism, in 2013 a CDC national health survey found that 1 in 50 children between the ages of 6 and 17 were diagnosed with ASD in 2011-2012.10 The authors of that 2013 federal health survey stated that:
The reported prevalence of ASD has increased in recent decades. For example, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) revealed a nearly fourfold increase in parent-reported ASD between the 1997–1999 and 2006–2008 surveillance periods, and CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network revealed a 78% increase in ASD prevalence between 2002 and 2008.
In a comment to The Washington Post on the latest CDC admission that 1 in 45 children in America suffer with autism, Jill Escher of the Autism Society of San Francisco said:
It’s not the year to year numbers that concern us. It’s the decade to decade. The fact that we have 1 in 45 children with a very serious neurological condition is a catastrophe by any measure.11
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Estimated Prevalence of Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities Following Questionnaire Changes in the 2014 National Health Interview Survey. National Health Statistics Reports Nov. 13, 2015.
2 Burd L, Fisher W, Kerbeshian J. A prevalence study of pervasive developmental disorders in North Dakota. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1987;26:700-703.
3 Ritvo ER, Freeman BJ. The UCLA-University of Utah epidemiologic survey of autism: prevalence. Am J Psychiatry 1989; 146(2): 194-199.
4 Filipek PA, Accardo PJ et al. Practice Parameter: Screening and diagnosis of autism. Neurology 2000; 55(4): 468-479.
5 Gurney JG, McPheeters ML et al. Parental Report of Health Conditions and Health Care Use Among Children With and Without Autism National Survey of Children’s Health. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2006; 160(8): 825-830.
6 Hitti M. CDC: 1 in 150 kids may have autism. WebMD Health News Feb. 8, 2007.
7 Associated Press. 1 in 110 children have autism, study finds. NBC News Dec. 18, 2009.
8 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Estimates 1 in 88 children in the United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder. CDC Press Release: Mar. 29, 2012.
9 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders Among Children Aged 8 Years – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network 11 Sites, United States, 2010. MMWR Mar. 28, 2014; 63(SS02): 1-21.
10 Blumberg SJ, Bramlett MD et al. Changes in Prevalence of Parent-reported Autism Spectrum Disorder in School-aged US Children in 2007 to 2011-2012. National Health Statistics Reports Mar. 20, 2013; (65).
11 Cha AE. Autism cases in U.S. jump to 1 in 45: Who gets the diagnosis, in 8 simple charts. The Washington Post Nov. 13, 2015.