Feb 19

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Surprising New Research on Autism Rates in the U.S.

Surprising New Research on Autism Rates in the U.S.

Are autism rates actually changing again in the United States? According to a new study from JAMA, the answer may surprise you. For several years, researchers have been tracking the rates of newly diagnosed children and have compiled the data.

How Have Rates Changed?

Researchers discovered that autism rates have stabilized in the United States, which is great news! Between 2014 to 2016, the number of children being diagnosed with autism did not increase significantly. This means that the numbers appear to have stabilized. Prior to this study, it was believed that rates were constantly increasing. 

Why Have Rates Changes?

There are several possible explanations for why the autism rates have changed. One answer is that the total number of children being born has decreased, so there are fewer cases of autism. Fertility rates have been going down in the United States for years, and this may explain the changes the researchers observed. So this really isn’t great news.

Another possibility is that diagnostic criteria continue to change, and this affects how many kids are being diagnosed with autism. Changes in people’s finances and health insurance may also prevent them from getting a diagnosis for the children because of the expense. 

Looking Ahead

Although rates appear to have stabilized, this does not mean that the focus on autism will disappear. The CDC estimates that one out of 68 children has autism, and 3.5 million people have it in the United States. These numbers are not changing, and autistic adults and kids will continue to need services and care for many years.

In addition, the study only looked at rates from 2014 to 2016, so the stability researchers saw can change in the future. Even the scientists admit that changing how questions are phrased in a study can alter the outcomes. Too many of us have children or know children with Autism!  Autism still requires more research and understanding for ALL those involved.

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