Rise in Children With Autism
In March, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released updated statistics on the rate of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which has been steadily on the rise. One in 36 children was diagnosed with autism by age 8 in 2020, or about 2.8 percent of children, up from one in 44 children in 2018, and one in 150 children in 2000 when the CDC first established the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network to track ASD prevalence in this country.
Autism was 3.8 times as prevalent among boys (4 percent) as girls (1 percent), and for the first time among 8-year-old children, the prevalence was slightly lower among white children than other racial and ethnic groups, which is a reversal of racial and ethnic differences observed in the past. The CDC partially attributes these patterns to improved screening, awareness and access to services.
The report included communities in 11 states that participate in the CDC Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network—Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. Children included in this report were born in 2012 and lived in surveillance areas during 2020. ASD prevalence varied from state to state, with Maryland having the lowest and California the highest observed rates.