Autism diagnosis rates rise in new health report from US government
Advocates call for more research funds as study cites wider screening and better diagnosis behind increase in cases
Autism cases are on the rise again in the US, largely due to wider screening and better diagnosis, federal health officials said Thursday.
The rate of US cases rose to about 1 in 88 children. The previous estimate was 1 in 110.
The new figure is from the latest in a series of studies that have been steadily increasing the government’s autism estimate. This number means autism is nearly twice as common as officials said it was only five years ago and likely affects roughly 1 million US children and teens.
Health officials attribute the increase largely to better recognition of cases through wide screening and better diagnosis. But the search for the cause of autism is really only beginning, and officials acknowledge that other factors may be helping to drive up the numbers.
“We’re not quite sure the reasons for the increase,” said Coleen Boyle, a doctor with the centers for disease control and prevention.
As in the past, advocacy groups seized on the new numbers as further evidence that autism research and services should get greater emphasis. The new figures indicate “a public health emergency that demands immediate attention,” said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for the advocacy group Autism Speaks….