The newly-released data is based off children born in 2000 and means autism possibly affects over 1 million USA children and teens. The autism rate also varied dramatically by region, with New Jersey reporting a prevalence that is twice what is found in Arkansas. A report released in 2007 put the estimate at 1 in 150, or the equivalent of about 1 child in every 5 or 6 classrooms.
Thomas Frazier, chief science officer for Autism Speaks, a national advocacy organization, called the 15 percent rise in prevalence "a truly significant increase that says we need to keep up the push", including for more research into what has been called the nation's fastest growing developmental disability.
Approximately 1 in 59 children (1.7%) at the 11 CDC sites are estimated to have had autism spectrum disorder in this latest report, a snapshot of 2014 - an increase from the estimated 1 in 68 children (1.5%) in their previous report, reported Jon Baio, EdS, of the CDC, and colleagues. "And those who work with or on behalf of children can join forces to ensure that all children with autism get identified and connected to the services they need as early as possible", Shapira said in a statement.
Researchers from the CDC agree that some of the increase may be due to improved identification of autism cases in minority populations.
"The new CDC numbers are the best evidence we have of just how common this disorder is", said Zachary Warren, PhD, executive director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders. The report also found that white children are diagnosed with autism more often than black or Hispanic children, but the gap has closed dramatically.
"We tell parents all the time: when you withhold vaccines from your child, you are doing absolutely nothing to reduce the likelihood that they will be diagnosed with autism", Singer said.
The estimates were combined from 11 communities within Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. "It's likely in part due to better identification, more screening and referral to services". Autism can't be cured and its cause still isn't clear, although it could be related to genes, or to do with having too many nerve connections in the brain.
With autism rates continuing to climb, this has become an urgent public health concern that requires concerted scientific and public health effort, he said.
Victoria Mantia says at-home therapy has greatly helped her 4-year-old son, Noah, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 2.
"For 2014, the overall prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among the 11 (autism monitoring) sites was 16.8 per 1,000 (one in 59) children aged 8 years", the researchers wrote in the report.
The reviewers may include children who show signs of autism, even if they do not have an official diagnosis.
"Autism is growing and becoming more and more prevalent", says Fennimore-Taylor.
Although 85 percent of children with autism had concerns about their development noted in their health records by the time they were 3 years old, only 42 percent received a developmental evaluation by that age.
'Healthcare providers can acknowledge and help parents act on those concerns. "These are the children we don't see on TV shows, or advocating for themselves in Washington".