One per cent of U.S. kids are autistic

Number far higher than previously believed: report

According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, about one per cent of U.S. children aged three to 17 have autism or a related disorder, a large increase over previous estimates. Using data from the federal government’s 2007 national survey of children’s health, the results are based on a national phone survey of over 78,000 parents in which they were asked if a health care provider had ever told them their child had an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which includes Asperger’s disorder and pervasive developmental disorder. Kids with the disorder have difficulty with social interaction and communication, and may show repetitive behaviour. When asked if their children were considered to have ASD now, almost 40 per cent of parents and guardians said no, leading some to wonder if children had been improperly diagnosed. Even so, lead author Dr. Michael D. Kogan estimated the prevalence of ASD at slightly over one per cent, higher than the average of 1 in 150 reported in 2003. “This is a significant issue that needs immediate attention,” said Dr. Ileana Arias, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “A concerted effort and substantial national response is warranted.”


Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.