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December 18, 2009

CDC Issues Report on Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a report on the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in the United States. The report relied on data from the nationwide Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, which included researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Kennedy Krieger Institute.

According to the report, between 1 in 80 and 1 in 240 children with an average of 1 in 110 have ASD. The estimated prevalence of ASDs is about 1 percent of 8-year-olds in the U.S. These results reflect data collected from 172,335 8-year-olds in multiple communities throughout the U.S. (approximately 8 percent of all 8-year-olds in the U.S.) in 2006. All ADDM communities participating in both the earlier 2002 and the 2006 study years observed an increase in identified ASD prevalence ranging from 27 percent to 95 percent, with an average increase of 57 percent.  

“The data in this report confirm that ASDs remain an urgent public health concern,” said Li-Ching Lee, PhD, ScM, the principal investigator of the Maryland Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Project (MD-ADDM) and associate scientist in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Epidemiology. “These prevalence estimates are helpful to plan policy, educational, and intervention services needs for children with ASDs. In addition, the observed significant increase in ASD prevalence recorded during 2002 to 2006 further underscores the need to understand better the risk factors and causes of ASD.”

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. Between 2005 and 2006, 15,764 children in Maryland, ages 3 to 21, were classified as having autism by the Maryland Department of Education.

CDC information

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