Based on a March 30, 2012 report analyzing 2008 data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 88 U.S. children has been identified as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD). According to the report, this is an overall increase of 78 percent from 2002 to 2008. According to the Executive Summary, the report’s key findings regarding the increase are that, during the data period, more children were identified at earlier ages; five times more boys than girls were identified; the largest increases over time were among Hispanic and African-American children; and the majority of the identified children did not have intellectual disability. The CDC acknowledged that the reasons for the increase are unknown and that additional research is necessary. “We will continue working to provide essential data on ASDs, to understand the recent increase and why some children are more likely to be identified than others, and to improve early identification in hopes that all children have the opportunity to thrive.”
A copy of the report, Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) Among Multiple Areas of the United States in 2008 is available at http://www.cdc.gov/Features/CountingAutism/.