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(UK) JAMA: One in 30 American children has autism; due to "better surveillance"

July 5, 2022, Daily Mail: Autism among American children and teens surged 50% in three years from 2017, with one in 30 kids diagnosed with the disorder by 2020, study finds

Around one in every 30 children and adolescents in America have autism, a new study finds • Autism rates in America have jumped 50% from 2017 to 2020, after a heavy drop from 2016 to 2017 • The U.S. and Europe often have higher autism rates than other nations because of better surveillance for the condition • Boys are much more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls, and children that are poor or black are at a higher risk as well

Researchers, who published their findings Tuesday in JAMA Pediatrics, gathered data from the annual National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

The survey, which is conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducts household interviews and targeted screenings to find more about the health of the average household. In 2014, the NHIS found that 2.24 percent of children and adolescents in America had autism. ...

The figure gradually grew, reaching 2.76 percent in 2016. It took a sharp drop in 2017 from to 2.44 percent.

It then steadily grew over the next three years, until the most recent NHIS data from 2020 which finds that 3.49 percent of America's youth is on the spectrum.

Researchers note that the U.S. and Europe generally have higher autism rates than the rest of the world, likely because of better screening and diagnosis.

Nearly five percent of young boys had autism, compared to just under two percent of girls. Children that are black, come from a family in poverty, or have a more educated family are most likely to be diagnosed.

The reasons for these discrepancies have not been determined, but experts have long known that boys in particular are more likely to receive an autism diagnosis.

While increasing rates of autism may be alarming, some experts see them as more of a positive - believing that the number of people experiencing the condition has not increased but instead a sign a better surveillance.

In 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all children between 18 months and two years old be screened for autism.

As the amount of screening and diagnostic testing increased, so did the amount of cases detected.

The average parent is now more aware of common early signs of autism than they were in previous years, and could recognize things like failure to keep eye contact, poor communication skills and inability to operate out of structure as signs.

Social stigma surrounding autism has lessoned as well, and many parents are much more willing to get their child screened without fear of negative social repercussions.

Some experts do warn that there are some negative effects being suffered by children in the womb that puts them at higher risk, though.

Experts warn that older parents, exposure to pollution while in the womb and even a mother that is obese during pregnancy could be tied to increased likelihood of developing autism.


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