A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Spring, 2018 | Number 2, Volume 32

CDC report: more U.S. children being diagnosed with ASD

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that increasing numbers of children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). 

The CDC determines the prevalence of ASD in the United States based on data from medical and/or school records of eight-year-olds collected from  11 monitoring sites around the country. Its report is issued every other year. 

According to the current report, one in 59 children had been diagnosed with ASD by the age of 8 in 2014. This is a nearly 16% increase over 2012. 

Boys are still more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than girls; however, the gender gap has narrowed from 4.5-to-1 to 4-to-1, which the CDC says reflects improved diagnosis of girls. The researchers also found that while children in minority groups continue to be underdiagnosed, increasing numbers of black and Hispanic children with ASD are being identified early, apparently due to better awareness and screening. However, despite increased awareness, only 42% of children with ASD had an evaluation for autism by the age of three, even though 85% showed signs of the condition. 

The frequency of autism diagnosis varied from site to site, ranging from a low of 1 in 77 children in Arkansas to a high of 1 in 34 children in New Jersey. This appears to be a result of differences in medical and educational services. 

The report concludes, “With prevalence of ASD reaching nearly 3% in some communities and representing an increase of 150% since 2000, ASD is an urgent public health concern that could benefit from enhanced strategies to help identify ASD earlier; to determine possible risk factors; and to address the growing behavioral, educational, residential, and occupational needs of this population.”


“Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years—Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2014,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, April 27, 2018, Vol.  67, No. 6, pp. 1–23. 


 “Autism prevalence jumps 16%, CDC says,” Jessica Wright, Spectrum, Scientific American, April 27, 2018.