Once again the officialdom in Atlanta [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] has announced that the autism rate is higher than previously believed, and once again, we’re told that IT DOESN’T MEAN MORE CHILDREN ACTUALLY HAVE AUTISM.
I’ve been writing on this phenomenon over the last couple of decades.
EACH AND EVERY TIME an update in the numbers came out, there was ALWAYS the caveat added by some expert and featured by all in the mainstream media that assured the public that the new rate was nothing to worry about—no real change.
When the news broke on the latest findings, I could predict that every major news outlet covering it would ONCE AGAIN deny any real increase and would ONCE AGAIN attribute the numbers to better counting and greater awareness. And this time we’re told it’s also due to different methods of gathering data.
The message to the American people ONCE AGAIN is: AUTISM IS NOT, NOR WILL IT EVER BE, A CRISIS.
Remember back to last April when the rate of one in 59 U.S. children was announced?
THE NEW JERSEY RATE CITED AT THAT TIME WAS ONE IN EVERY 34 CHIDREN (one in every 22 boys). You’d think people would have been in a panic to explain the NJ numbers—why the big difference? (Or why there is NEVER a comparable rate of autism found among ADULTS.)
It was noted that New Jersey kept better data on autism, which might mean that their numbers were more accurate than the other states in the survey.
It was all just another piece in the puzzle—one big, collective yawn on the part of health officials.
So here below is the new rate coverage that also spreads the message that it’s all good. MORE AUTISM IN CHILDREN IS NOT A PROBLEM! (We’re just getting closer to the New Jersey numbers.) It’s no surprise. Sleep well tonight.
(Note that the Grand Rapids, MI story hints at a real increase—just a hint.)
A new government study finds that roughly 1 in 40 American children has autism, a huge jump from the previous estimate of 1 in every 59 children.
The survey asked parents of more than 43,000 children between the ages of 3 and 17 whether or not their children had ever been diagnosed with autism or an autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, and whether the child in question still struggled with an ASD.
Study author Michael Kogan offered several explanations for the discrepancy between the previous figure from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the new figures from the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health. …
"I don't know if 'surprised' is the word I would use," Kogan said about his team's findings. "We began the study knowing that the prevalence of ASD had been increasing for the last 30 to 40 years." …
The findings were published online Nov. 26 in the journal Pediatrics.
Thomas Frazier, chief science officer at Autism Speaks, expressed little surprise at the findings.
"They are generally consistent with previous parent surveys and other direct prevalence studies where researchers directly screen for and attempt to identify autism," he said, adding that the CDC numbers are "probably a bit conservative."
As to why estimates have generally been rising in recent years, Frazier dismissed the idea that the overall share of American children who have autism is growing that rapidly, suggesting instead that analysis methods have become "more liberal and inclusive."
Wood8TV, Grand Rapids, MI: How many American children have autism? The U.S. government answers that question at least three different ways and says the latest estimate — 1 in 40 kids — doesn’t necessarily mean the numbers are rising.
The new number, published Monday in Pediatrics, is from one of three periodic surveys the government uses to assess autism rates. It’s higher than a different survey’s estimate published earlier this year, but the surveys use different methods and measure different populations of kids so the results aren’t really comparable.
Because there’s no medical test, “autism spectrum disorder is a particularly challenging condition to track,” government researchers wrote in the Pediatrics report.
The true occurrence of autism likely ranges from about 1 in 59 kids to 1 in 40 kids, researchers say, taking into account information from all three surveys.
“All contribute different information to form a fuller picture,” said Michael Kogan, lead author of the new report conducted by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration, a federal agency.
Various reports in recent years have suggested autism rates are rising slightly. Experts think that’s mostly because of earlier diagnosis, an expanded definition and more awareness, but say they can’t rule out a true increase caused by unknown factors.
St. Louis Post Dispatch: Dr. John Constantino of Washington University, one of the authors of the CDC report, said he expects the autism rate to stay fairly steady going forward in all of the different accounting methods.
If the rate of autism does continue to rise, there may need to be a “serious recalibration” of the disorder’s definition to avoid overdiagnosis, Constantino said.
Fox5, San Diego: Frazier said the 1-in-40 figure is “generally consistent with previous parent surveys and other direct prevalence studies where researchers directly screen for and attempt to identify autism.”
Fierce Health Care: Research has shown autism diagnoses have increased in children over the past two decades. Experts caution that while this figure is higher than a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released earlier this year estimating 1.7 % kids have the disorder, the difference in these two particular estimates more likely reflects differences in how the data was collected rather than an increase
Reuters: The current study is based on one of several different surveys used to estimate autism rates in the U.S. Another recent study in JAMA used different data and found 2.8 percent of U.S. children from 3 to 17 years old had autism spectrum disorders.
Based on yet another set of data, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 1 in 59 kids have autism.
Taken together, some of the recent studies on autism suggest that diagnosis rates may be leveling off after steadily climbing for years, researchers say. …
One limitation of the study is that differences in how it counted kids with autism and how it reached parents to participate make it hard to compare the findings with other data to determine whether autism rates might be changing, the authors note.
“I think that the take-home message isn’t necessarily new but is important: autism spectrum disorder is a common condition that merits screening and early treatment,” said Dr. Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, a psychiatry researcher at Columbia University in New York City who wasn’t involved in the study.
WebMD: …Study author Michael Kogan offered several explanations for the discrepancy between the previous figure from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the new figures from the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health.
First, he noted that "because there is no biological test for ASD, it is difficult to track." And he added that different data collection methods can produce very different results.
CNN: "Prevalence is not growing that rapidly, although the CDC's data suggests it is still growing," Thomas Frazier, chief science officer of the advocacy organization Autism Speaks, said in an emailed statement. He was not involved in the new report.
"What is happening is that these studies use methods that are a bit more liberal and inclusive than the CDC's methods," Frazier said, adding that he prefers the CDC's numbers but understands "that they are likely a bit conservative."
Dr. John Constantino of Washington University, one of the authors of the CDC report, said he expects the autism rate to stay fairly steady going forward in all of the different accounting methods.So …if your child has autism, he or she is just one of many. The most we can hope for is early diagnosing and better treatment.