According to the findings of a new study, the rate of autism in the United States appears to be increasing than previously thought, however, the rate of the condition is gradually stabilizing.
According to a new analysis of data from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), an estimated 2.41 percent of children in the United States have autism spectrum disorder. Researchers from the new study said that the most recent previous estimate put autism rates at 1.47 percent in 2010.
Commenting on the findings of the study, senior author Dr. Wei Bao, an epidemiologist with the University of Iowa College of Public Health said, “The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder is much higher than previously thought.”
The epidemiologist said that the autism spectrum disorder affects nearly 1 out of 41 children, which is a significant increase in autism from previous decades.
“Autism now is not something rare,” he said. “It’s not as rare as 1 per 1,000, as it was in the 1970s and 1980s. With these data, now we can see it is already 1 per 41. The prevalence is much higher than previously thought.”
The senior author, however, added that despite the hike in the rate, it may have leveled off in the recent years.
“After many years of seeing a slow but steady increase in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders, it is encouraging that the most recent national data failed to find any increase during the most recent three-year period,” said Dr. Andrew Adesman. He is chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park.
“Although it is encouraging that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders is not increasing further, we don’t have a good understanding of why the prevalence increased in recent previous years, and it remains concerning that the prevalence is as high as it is,” Adesman said.
The findings of the study were published in the Journal of American Medical Association on January 2.