U.S. autism rate rises 30% in two years

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its latest report on autism rates, which have jumped to 1 in 68 in the regions studied over the same report two years ago. The highest rate nationally is in New Jersey, with a 1 in 45 diagnosis. Autism is about five times more common in boys than in girls.

The rates are based on 2010 data and are a thirty percent increase from 2008 data and rates have more than doubled nationally since 2000. CDC estimates are than 1.2 million people under age 21 are on the autism spectrum.

While scientists argue over the reasons behind the rising autism rate, most agree that underlying reasons include better reporting and record-keeping as well as heightened awareness of what autism is during the past two decades.

The report looked at the prevalence of autism among 8-year-olds in parts of 11 states. Overall, 14.7 out of every 1,000 children had an autism spectrum disorder. The part of New Jersey studied had 21.9. A similar report based on 2000 and 2002 data put the New Jersey rate at almost half that: 10.6 per 1,000.

National numbers are likely coming soon, with the latest being from 2008 with a rate of 11.3 per 1,000 (up from 6.7 in 2000). In successive reports over time, a growing proportion of children characterized as autistic have been of normal intelligence. Thirty-two percent were average or above in 2002, compared to 46 percent in 2010, the new report said.

 
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