CDC estimates 1 in 88 children in United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder

29 Mar

The CDC has released the latest autism prevalence estimate. The estimate from children born in 2000 and using data from when they are 8 years old (2008) is 1 in 88, a 23% increase over the previous estimate (1 in 110 for children born in 1998). Here is the CDC press release.

CDC estimates 1 in 88 children in United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder

CDC data help communities better serve these children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 88 children in the United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a new study released today that looked at 2008 data from 14 communities. Autism spectrum disorders are almost five times more common among boys than girls – with 1 in 54 boys identified.

The number of children identified with ASDs ranged from 1 in 210 children in Alabama to 1 in 47 children in Utah. The largest increases were among Hispanic and black children.

The report, Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008, provides autism prevalence estimates from 14 areas. It was published today in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“This information paints a picture of the magnitude of the condition across our country and helps us understand how communities identify children with autism,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “That is why HHS and our entire administration has been working hard to improve the lives of people living with autism spectrum disorders and their families by improving research, support, and services.”

“One thing the data tells us with certainty – there are many children and families who need help,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We must continue to track autism spectrum disorders because this is the information communities need to guide improvements in services to help children.”

The results of CDC’s study highlight the importance of the Obama administration’s efforts to address the needs of people with ASDs, including the work of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The IACC’s charge is to facilitate ASD research, screening, intervention, and education. As part of this effort, the National Institutes of Health has invested in research to identify possible risk factors and effective therapies for people with ASDs.

Study results from the 2008 surveillance year show 11.3 per 1,000 8-year-old children have been identified as having an ASD. This marks a 23 percent increase since the last report in 2009. Some of this increase is due to the way children are identified, diagnosed and served in their communities, although exactly how much is due to these factors is unknown. “To understand more, we need to keep accelerating our research into risk factors and causes of autism spectrum disorders,” said Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., M.S.Hyg., director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

The study also shows more children are being diagnosed by age 3, an increase from 12 percent for children born in 1994 to 18 percent for children born in 2000. “Unfortunately, 40 percent of the children in this study aren’t getting a diagnosis until after age 4. We are working hard to change that,” said Boyle.

The most important thing for parents to do is to act quickly whenever there is a concern about a child’s development.

• Talk to your child’s doctor about your concerns.
• Call your local early intervention program or school system for an assessment.
• Remember you do not need a diagnosis to access services for your child.

To learn more about this study, visit

For information on CDC’s tools to help families track their child’s development, visit

To learn more about the research CDC is doing on autism, visit

To learn more about the Administration’s commitment to combating autism, visit

9 Responses to “CDC estimates 1 in 88 children in United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder”

  1. Todd W. March 29, 2012 at 17:46 #

    I took a look at the 2008 immunization rates for the 14 regions listed in the CDC report. New Jersey, which, from what I hear, is probably one of the most autism-aware states, had a prevalence of 20.5 per 1,000. In 2008, their overall immunization rate for the 4:3:1:3:3 series was one of the lowest, at 72.8% The state with the highest immunization rate, Wisconsin at 83.6%, had an autism prevalence of 0.78% [edit by Sullivan]

    Now, this is not a scientific comparison, by any means, but I thought I’d put it out there before anti-vaccine advocates start trying to force the numbers to match their ideologies.

    • Sullivan March 29, 2012 at 17:52 #

      “an autism prevalence of 7.8%”

      I think you mean “0.78%”

  2. Todd W. March 29, 2012 at 17:58 #

    Heh. Oops. Yes. Feel free to edit my post.

  3. David N. Brown March 30, 2012 at 00:08 #

    The high figure from Utah could be especially significant. Higher rates of a genetic disorder COULD occur as a result of the historic practice of polygamy by Mormon settlers. It would be of even more interest if a high proportion of diagnoses were coming from the isolated FLDS communities.

    What’s even more significant is that local autism rates clearly vary far more than vaccination rates. So, if there are factors other than genetics at work, vaccination is NOT one of them.

    David N. Brown
    Mesa, Arizona

  4. Christie Buchovecky March 31, 2012 at 15:57 #

    David, I’m not convinced the rates in Utah are that much higher than everywhere else (small-ish population, very large error bars).

    Also, mark my words, these numbers will go up again, particularly due to further increases in ethnic minority populations. Just look at Miami’s numbers: the percentage of children with an ASD is much lower in the Hispanic population. I was there when they were planning this study – historically the Hispanic population there simply does not trust doctors (speaking generally) and therefore does not get diagnosed. UM has been working diligently on community outreach, and, if I remember, the numbers in this most recent study are up from the last time Miami gave their numbers, but I’d bet we still have a long way to go. Please note, I’m not discounting the idea that there may be genuine differences between ethnic populations that translate to real differences in prevalence, I just don’t believe we are seeing the real numbers yet.

  5. Christie Buchovecky March 31, 2012 at 16:08 #

    Also, taking another look at some of the Utah data, I noticed that they have the highest proportion of children with ASD and and IQ score >85. This is significant with regard to their high prevalence – either there is actually a higher rate of HF autism or aspergers there (due to environmental factors or David’s genetic relatedness theory, or both), or children are being misdiagnosed (perhaps ADHD numbers are lower here).

  6. Christie Buchovecky March 31, 2012 at 16:13 #

    Alternatively, I suppose Utah could be catching all of the IQ>85 kids, while everywhere else (except maybe NJ, which has similarly high prevalence rates and IQ>85 percentages) does not.

  7. David N. Brown April 2, 2012 at 08:22 #

    Regarding the FLDS communities in particular (which are mostly concentrated on both sides of the UT-AZ border), they have in the last decade or so been under increasing scrutiny from law enforcement and the civil courts. There are also accounts of them voluntarily seeking social services, particularly for medical care. This evident rise in contact with a historically isolated subpopulation could have an effect on local reporting of any number of conditions.

    David N. Brown
    Mesa, Arizona


  1. Prevalence Rising : Embracing Chaos - April 13, 2012

    […] According to the CDC, 1 in 88 children in the US have been identified with autism spectrum disorder.  These numbers come from 2000 and 2008 (i.e., they’re already old in comparison to some more recent studies using different, more timely methodologies in other locations), and are compared with the 1 in 110 that dates from 1998.  While none of the prevalence estimates I’ve seen have lined up exactly, this trend towards more people with autism (versus less people with autism) seems consistent. […]

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