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June 3, 2010

Bloomberg School of Public Health Receives CDC Autism Grant

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was awarded $1.7 million by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to continue identifying and evaluating changes in the number of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and other developmental disabilities in Maryland over the next four years.

“This award will support our continuing efforts to estimate the number of children affected by ASDs in Maryland,” said Li-Ching Lee, PhD, ScM, principal investigator of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network in Maryland and associate scientist with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Epidemiology. “Information collected by ADDM will allow us to better understand the characteristics of children affected by ASDs and will help our communities to plan for the services these children and their families need.”

CDC has awarded a total of $5 million per year to 11 sites in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin. These sites participate in the ADDM Network to provide comparable, population-based estimates of the number of 8-year-old children with ASDs and other developmental disabilities in different locations over time.

Partnering up with the Maryland State Department of Education, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Kennedy Krieger Institute, MD-ADDM collected data in Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Harford and Howard counties in 2004 and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Harford and Howard counties in 2006. There are approximately 22,000 babies born in the Maryland study area each year.

“Over the last decade, we’ve learned that autism affects about one out of every 110 American children,” said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services. “The collaboration with these grantees is one part of an historic new investment in autism research by our agency and others to better understand this urgent public health challenge and address the complex needs of people with autism and their families.”

ASDs are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant challenges in social interactions and communication. Children with ASDs handle information in their brain differently than other people, and might have unusual ways of learning, paying attention, and reacting to different sensations. ASDs are part of the broader category of pervasive developmental disorders and include autistic disorder, Asperger disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified. For information on CDC’s work on autism, please visit www.cdc.gov/autism.

Public Affairs media contact for JHSPH: Tim Parsons at 410-955-7619 or tmparson@jhsph.edu.

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