Washington loves to dump its bad news on a Friday afternoon, and today it confirmed that one percent of American children (and by extension, perhaps 1-in-58 boys) - has an autism spectrum disorder.
On a hastily arranged telephone “visit” with US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the autism community, the health chief announced that “the prevalence of autism might be even higher than previously thought.” But, she added, “We don’t know if it has gone up, and we are hoping to unlock these mysteries.”
The Secretary then declared autism “An urgent public health challenge,” declared that President Obama was “right to make it one of our top health priorities,” including research into “treatments and a cure” for the disorder, and promptly ended her visit.
Helping to fill in some of the details was Dr. Thomas R. Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and Chair of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, who confirmed that CDC data to be published later this year will estimate the current childhood ASD rate at 100-per-10,000 children.
The data, collected from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, shows a significant uptick in ASD prevalence estimates in just two years.
According to ADDM, the average rate of autism among eight-year-olds across all study sites was 67-per-10,000 in 2000 (the 1992 birth cohort), and 66-per-10,000 in 2002 (the 1994 birth cohort). Only six sites were included in both studies, and their average prevalence rate increased by 10%, from 67-per-10,000 to 74-per-10,000.
Now, CDC has announced that among the 1996 birth cohort, the estimated rate of ASD is 100-per-10,000; a staggering 50% increase over the 1994 birth cohort.