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New Jersey: "Autism rates increased by 43%, 2010 and 2014"; call for "universal screening"

April 15, 2019, News Medical: Why have autism rates 'exploded' in New Jersey? Researchers at Rutgers University have revealed that pre-schoolers in New Jersey have the highest rates of autism ever recorded in the US. They report rates of autism have increased faster in children living in New Jersey than in other states. The study, which was conducted in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), states that up to three percent of children in the US live with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)…. … One in 35 children in New Jersey are diagnosed by this time. The study analyzed data from the health and special education records of 129,354 children who turned 4 between 2010 and 2014, along with 128,655 children who were 8 years old during the same period. … Autism rates increased by 43% between 2010 and 2014 Walter Zahorodny, an associate professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School who was responsible for running the study in New Jersey, explained that among 4-year-olds, the rate of autism increased by 43 percent from 2010 to 2014, with 1 in 23 four year old boys being diagnosed with autism. He also said that the increasing rates of autism in children show no signs of slowing. The explosive rate of autism is impossible to ignore. There’s no let-up. I really don’t understand why the rate is going up in this way.”Dr. Walter Zahorodny Risk factors associated with ASD incidence include advanced parental age, maternal illness during pregnancy, genetic mutations, and premature birth. “These are true influences exerting an effect, but they are not enough to explain the high rate of autism prevalence,” Zahorodny said. “There are still undefined environmental risks that contribute to this significant increase, factors that could affect a child in its development in utero or related to birth complications or to the new-born period. We need more research into non-genetic triggers for autism.” The results were 'startling'… The study states “an absence or delay in ASD identification could adversely affect children by delaying interventions and initiation of special services.” We must take swift and systematic action to increase access to and fund medically necessary treatment for every child with autism. Early identification is crucial to helping families access services for these pre-schoolers, who need intensive treatment to learn developmentally appropriate skills and maximize their potential.” Suzanne Buchanan, Executive Director, Autism New Jersey Zahorodny deemed the results to be “consistent, broad and startling,” believing that “It’s very likely that the next time we survey autism among children, the rate will be even higher.” … According to Zahorodny, “The experience of our special education system and the number of developmental specialists in our region” meant that NJ’s data was more complete than other states. Despite our greater awareness, we are not effective yet in early detection. Our goal should be systematic, universal screening that pediatricians and other health providers provide at regular visits starting at 18 months to identify autism as soon as possible.”


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