Is The Prevalence of Autism Really On The Rise?

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Last month (May 2011), in The American Journal of Psychiatry, a report was released on a recent study done in South Korea concerning the prevalence of autism. The study suggested a rate of 2.64% of 7-12 year old population was somewhere on the autism spectrum. According to that percentage, 1 in 38 children have autism. This is a far cry from the rate of 1 in 110 (the average of 1 in 80 and 1 in 240) that the CDC quotes in the United States. However, going deeper into the study the fog begins to lift a little about why these numbers vary so greatly.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) uses health records and educational records to come to their estimate of 1 in 110. They rely on those that are already diagnosed or under some type of supervision for being on the autism spectrum. The study done in South Korea done a screening of all willing participants in the stated age group in the Ilsan district of Goyang City. A total of almost 37,000 children (including around 300 that were already on the disability register) participated in the study. Yet, lets think about something for a minute.

Have you ever bought a new car? You go to the car lot, get hassled by the slick sleazy salesman that tells you whatever you want to hear, and you pick your new ride. Its a nice car/truck/SUV that you haven’t observed many people in your town driving. You pull off the lot, and before you get home you have spotted 12 just like it, 4 of which were the same color. Back to autism, maybe they saw more cases because they were looking. Most of us agree that there is definitely a lot more children being labeled as “autistic” than there used to be, but this could simply be a case of greater awareness both from the public as well as medical practitioners.

Regardless of the numbers or percentages, early detection is important. If you are concerned that your child may have autism, take a look at some of our previous articles that detail some of the things you should be looking for. Also, we are going to throw in a couple links, one to the CDC and another to a copy of the study we used for reference. Have a great day, and thanks for reading.

Do you think there is a rise in the number of cases of autism?  Do you think it is awareness, or an actual increase?  We would love to hear from you!

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