Autism Increasing and More Likely in White Males

Autism spectrum disorder study found cases increasing as more people recognize signs

(RxWiki News) Developmental disorders like autism and Asperger’s syndrome affect families around the world. Tracking cases is part of the clinical effort for better treatment options.

Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, includes a number of variations that often include deficits in social communication and interaction.

Since the first studies were conducted in the 1960s, physicians around the country have tracked a steady increase in diagnosed cases of the lifelong developmental disorder.

The most recent tracking report indicates cases of ASD are on the rise and are the most prevalent in white male children.

"Consult a doctor if your child may have a developmental disorder."

Jon Baio, EdS, of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), compiled data on ASD in eight-year-old children for the year 2010, the most recent available.

The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network provides annual estimates of ASD prevalence through screening evaluations and information provided by public schools providing special education services.

The monitoring network was established in 2000 by the CDC and comprises 14 areas in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

In addition to the annual estimates, the monitoring network also provides descriptions of the various ASD characteristics observed by educators and doctors.

In 2010, the average prevalence of ASD among the monitoring network sites was 14.7 cases per 1,000 eight-year-olds surveyed. In 2008, the average prevalence of ASD was 11.3 cases per 1,000 eight-year-olds in the monitoring network.

Frequency of ASD also varied by sex and racial or ethic group, with one in 42 boys exhibiting characteristics in the study areas compared to one in 189 girls.

Further, white children were 30 percent more likely to be identified with ASD than black children and 50 percent more likely to report ASD than Hispanic children, Baio and colleagues found.

Baio and team concluded, “Although the underlying reasons for the apparent prevalence changes are difficult to study empirically, select studies suggest that much of the recent prevalence increase is likely attributable to … factors such as improved awareness and recognition and changes in diagnostic practice or service availability."

These findings by Baio and colleagues were published on March 28 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Review Date: 
April 3, 2014