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CDC: 1 in 68 U.S. Children has Autism

The autism rate in American children has increased by 30% in two years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says the autism rate in American children has increased by 30% in two years.

In 2012, the rate was 1 in 88. Now the rate is 1 in 68. Autism now affects approximately 1.2 million Americans who are younger than 21.

Because most cases of autism are diagnosed by the time a child turns 8, the study focused on that age.

Experts say, however, that the new figure may in part be attributed to more children being diagnosed with the disorder, reports the Associated Press.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Autistic disorder is the most severe form of ASD, while other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.

In the CDC study, approximately one in 42 boys and one in 189 girls living in the ADDM Network communities were identified as having ASD. Non-Hispanic white children were approximately 30% more likely to be identified with ASD than non-Hispanic black children and were almost 50% more likely to be identified with ASD than Hispanic children. Among the seven sites with sufficient data on intellectual ability, 31% of children with ASD were classified as having IQ scores in the range of intellectual disability (IQ ≤70), 23% in the borderline range (IQ = 71-85), and 46% in the average or above average range of intellectual ability (IQ >85). The proportion of children classified in the range of intellectual disability differed by race/ethnicity. Approximately 48% of non-Hispanic black children with ASD were classified in the range of intellectual disability compared with 38% of Hispanic children and 25% of non-Hispanic white children. The median age of earliest known ASD diagnosis was 53 months and did not differ significantly by sex or race/ethnicity.

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