Autism Rate Rising Faster Among Some Children, Study Finds
New research suggests that the prevalence of autism is on the rise and it’s growing at a significantly faster clip among certain groups of kids.
Between 2007 and 2013, autism rates increased 73 percent among Hispanics and 44 percent among black children ages 3 to 5. At the same time, prevalence rose 25 percent for whites in that age bracket.
The findings come from a study published this month in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
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Researchers looked at data collected nationwide under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and information available from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, which regularly tracks prevalence in 8-year-olds in 11 communities.
“We found that rates among blacks and Hispanics are not only catching up to those of whites — which have historically been higher — but surpassing them,” said Cynthia Nevison of the University of Colorado Boulder who led the study.
Traditionally, autism rates among minority groups have lagged, a factor often attributed to a lack of awareness and resources in such communities. However, the new study found that prevalence among black children surpassed whites in 30 states by 2012.
“These results suggest that additional factors beyond just catch-up may be involved,” Nevison said.
The most recent figures from the CDC, which were released last year, indicate that 1 in 59 children have autism. The estimate is based on data collected on 8-year-olds in 2014 through the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network.
Since the start of the century, the government’s official estimate of autism prevalence has increased 150 percent.
“There is no doubt that autism prevalence has increased significantly over the past 10 to 20 years, and based on what we have seen from this larger, more recent dataset it will continue to increase among all race and ethnicity groups in the coming years,” said Walter Zahorodny, an autism researcher at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School who worked on the study.