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AAP News: Autism increase--better recognition among black children; "improved screening"

March 26, 2020, AAP News: Autism rate rises to 1 in 54 as screening improves https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/03/26/autismrates032620 The autism rate among 8-year-olds increased to one in 54 as screening improved, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rate, which is up from one in 59, is the same for white and black children for the first time. Kristin Sohl, M.D., FAAP, a member of the AAP Council on Children with Disabilities Autism Subcommittee, applauded improvements in screening to reduce disparities and said early diagnosis is “vital for a child’s development.” “We know the early years, meaning really birth to 5, is where the pivotal time points are to intervene in development,” she said. “That time frame is where the child’s brain is most adaptable so if there are delays, they can learn the most and make the most progress during those ages.”… The new autism prevalence rates are based on 2016 data from 11 communities in the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network and were published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. They ranged from one in 76 children in Colorado to one in 32 children in New Jersey. As in the past, boys with autism were four times more likely to be identified than girls. Dr. Sohl, associate professor of clinical child health at the University of Missouri, said girls’ social skills may lead to them go unrecognized. Girls who were diagnosed with autism were more likely to have an intellectual disability than boys, according to the report. While identification of black children caught up to white children, diagnosis of Hispanic children still lagged. Both black and Hispanic children also tend to be diagnosed later than white children. “We still have work to do to increase access for our underserved populations to evidence-based diagnostics … in order to continue to reduce existing inequalities,” Dr. Sohl said. …