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      Prevalence and Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2018

      research-article
      , PhD 1 , , , PhD 1 , , PhD 2 , , MD 2 , , DrPH, PhD 3 , , PhD 4 , , MS 3 , , MS 4 , , PhD 4 , 5 , , PhD 1 , , MPH 1 , , PhD 6 , , PhD 4 , , MS 3 , , MS 7 , , MS 8 , , PhD 8 , , MD 9 , , MA 1 , , PhD 9 , , MS 6 , 10 , , PhD 11 , , PhD 7 , , MPH 1 , 12 , , PhD 11 , , MHSA, MA 5 , 2 , , PhD 4 , , PhD 10 , , MD 5 , 11 , , MPH 1 , , MS 5 , , MPH 1 , 1 , , DrPH 1
      MMWR Surveillance Summaries
      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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          Abstract

          Problem/Condition

          Autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

          Period Covered

          2018.

          Description of System

          The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network conducts active surveillance of ASD. This report focuses on the prevalence and characteristics of ASD among children aged 8 years in 2018 whose parents or guardians lived in 11 ADDM Network sites in the United States (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin). To ascertain ASD among children aged 8 years, ADDM Network staff review and abstract developmental evaluations and records from community medical and educational service providers. In 2018, children met the case definition if their records documented 1) an ASD diagnostic statement in an evaluation (diagnosis), 2) a special education classification of ASD (eligibility), or 3) an ASD International Classification of Diseases (ICD) code.

          Results

          For 2018, across all 11 ADDM sites, ASD prevalence per 1,000 children aged 8 years ranged from 16.5 in Missouri to 38.9 in California. The overall ASD prevalence was 23.0 per 1,000 (one in 44) children aged 8 years, and ASD was 4.2 times as prevalent among boys as among girls. Overall ASD prevalence was similar across racial and ethnic groups, except American Indian/Alaska Native children had higher ASD prevalence than non-Hispanic White (White) children (29.0 versus 21.2 per 1,000 children aged 8 years). At multiple sites, Hispanic children had lower ASD prevalence than White children (Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, and Utah), and non-Hispanic Black (Black) children (Georgia and Minnesota). The associations between ASD prevalence and neighborhood-level median household income varied by site. Among the 5,058 children who met the ASD case definition, 75.8% had a diagnostic statement of ASD in an evaluation, 18.8% had an ASD special education classification or eligibility and no ASD diagnostic statement, and 5.4% had an ASD ICD code only. ASD prevalence per 1,000 children aged 8 years that was based exclusively on documented ASD diagnostic statements was 17.4 overall (range: 11.2 in Maryland to 29.9 in California). The median age of earliest known ASD diagnosis ranged from 36 months in California to 63 months in Minnesota.

          Among the 3,007 children with ASD and data on cognitive ability, 35.2% were classified as having an intelligence quotient (IQ) score ≤70. The percentages of children with ASD with IQ scores ≤70 were 49.8%, 33.1%, and 29.7% among Black, Hispanic, and White children, respectively. Overall, children with ASD and IQ scores ≤70 had earlier median ages of ASD diagnosis than children with ASD and IQ scores >70 (44 versus 53 months).

          Interpretation

          In 2018, one in 44 children aged 8 years was estimated to have ASD, and prevalence and median age of identification varied widely across sites. Whereas overall ASD prevalence was similar by race and ethnicity, at certain sites Hispanic children were less likely to be identified as having ASD than White or Black children. The higher proportion of Black children compared with White and Hispanic children classified as having intellectual disability was consistent with previous findings.

          Public Health Action

          The variability in ASD prevalence and community ASD identification practices among children with different racial, ethnic, and geographical characteristics highlights the importance of research into the causes of that variability and strategies to provide equitable access to developmental evaluations and services. These findings also underscore the need for enhanced infrastructure for diagnostic, treatment, and support services to meet the needs of all children.

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          Most cited references40

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          Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

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            Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2016

            Problem/Condition Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Period Covered 2016. Description of System The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network is an active surveillance program that provides estimates of the prevalence of ASD among children aged 8 years whose parents or guardians live in 11 ADDM Network sites in the United States (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin). Surveillance is conducted in two phases. The first phase involves review and abstraction of comprehensive evaluations that were completed by medical and educational service providers in the community. In the second phase, experienced clinicians who systematically review all abstracted information determine ASD case status. The case definition is based on ASD criteria described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Results For 2016, across all 11 sites, ASD prevalence was 18.5 per 1,000 (one in 54) children aged 8 years, and ASD was 4.3 times as prevalent among boys as among girls. ASD prevalence varied by site, ranging from 13.1 (Colorado) to 31.4 (New Jersey). Prevalence estimates were approximately identical for non-Hispanic white (white), non-Hispanic black (black), and Asian/Pacific Islander children (18.5, 18.3, and 17.9, respectively) but lower for Hispanic children (15.4). Among children with ASD for whom data on intellectual or cognitive functioning were available, 33% were classified as having intellectual disability (intelligence quotient [IQ] ≤70); this percentage was higher among girls than boys (40% versus 32%) and among black and Hispanic than white children (47%, 36%, and 27%, respectively). Black children with ASD were less likely to have a first evaluation by age 36 months than were white children with ASD (40% versus 45%). The overall median age at earliest known ASD diagnosis (51 months) was similar by sex and racial and ethnic groups; however, black children with IQ ≤70 had a later median age at ASD diagnosis than white children with IQ ≤70 (48 months versus 42 months). Interpretation The prevalence of ASD varied considerably across sites and was higher than previous estimates since 2014. Although no overall difference in ASD prevalence between black and white children aged 8 years was observed, the disparities for black children persisted in early evaluation and diagnosis of ASD. Hispanic children also continue to be identified as having ASD less frequently than white or black children. Public Health Action These findings highlight the variability in the evaluation and detection of ASD across communities and between sociodemographic groups. Continued efforts are needed for early and equitable identification of ASD and timely enrollment in services.
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              Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2014

              Problem/Condition Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Period Covered 2014. Description of System The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network is an active surveillance system that provides estimates of the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children aged 8 years whose parents or guardians reside within 11 ADDM sites in the United States (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin). ADDM surveillance is conducted in two phases. The first phase involves review and abstraction of comprehensive evaluations that were completed by professional service providers in the community. Staff completing record review and abstraction receive extensive training and supervision and are evaluated according to strict reliability standards to certify effective initial training, identify ongoing training needs, and ensure adherence to the prescribed methodology. Record review and abstraction occurs in a variety of data sources ranging from general pediatric health clinics to specialized programs serving children with developmental disabilities. In addition, most of the ADDM sites also review records for children who have received special education services in public schools. In the second phase of the study, all abstracted information is reviewed systematically by experienced clinicians to determine ASD case status. A child is considered to meet the surveillance case definition for ASD if he or she displays behaviors, as described on one or more comprehensive evaluations completed by community-based professional providers, consistent with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) diagnostic criteria for autistic disorder; pervasive developmental disorder–not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS, including atypical autism); or Asperger disorder. This report provides updated ASD prevalence estimates for children aged 8 years during the 2014 surveillance year, on the basis of DSM-IV-TR criteria, and describes characteristics of the population of children with ASD. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association published the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which made considerable changes to ASD diagnostic criteria. The change in ASD diagnostic criteria might influence ADDM ASD prevalence estimates; therefore, most (85%) of the records used to determine prevalence estimates based on DSM-IV-TR criteria underwent additional review under a newly operationalized surveillance case definition for ASD consistent with the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. Children meeting this new surveillance case definition could qualify on the basis of one or both of the following criteria, as documented in abstracted comprehensive evaluations: 1) behaviors consistent with the DSM-5 diagnostic features; and/or 2) an ASD diagnosis, whether based on DSM-IV-TR or DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. Stratified comparisons of the number of children meeting either of these two case definitions also are reported. Results For 2014, the overall prevalence of ASD among the 11 ADDM sites was 16.8 per 1,000 (one in 59) children aged 8 years. Overall ASD prevalence estimates varied among sites, from 13.1–29.3 per 1,000 children aged 8 years. ASD prevalence estimates also varied by sex and race/ethnicity. Males were four times more likely than females to be identified with ASD. Prevalence estimates were higher for non-Hispanic white (henceforth, white) children compared with non-Hispanic black (henceforth, black) children, and both groups were more likely to be identified with ASD compared with Hispanic children. Among the nine sites with sufficient data on intellectual ability, 31% of children with ASD were classified in the range of intellectual disability (intelligence quotient [IQ] 85). The distribution of intellectual ability varied by sex and race/ethnicity. Although mention of developmental concerns by age 36 months was documented for 85% of children with ASD, only 42% had a comprehensive evaluation on record by age 36 months. The median age of earliest known ASD diagnosis was 52 months and did not differ significantly by sex or race/ethnicity. For the targeted comparison of DSM-IV-TR and DSM-5 results, the number and characteristics of children meeting the newly operationalized DSM-5 case definition for ASD were similar to those meeting the DSM-IV-TR case definition, with DSM-IV-TR case counts exceeding DSM-5 counts by less than 5% and approximately 86% overlap between the two case definitions (kappa = 0.85). Interpretation Findings from the ADDM Network, on the basis of 2014 data reported from 11 sites, provide updated population-based estimates of the prevalence of ASD among children aged 8 years in multiple communities in the United States. The overall ASD prevalence estimate of 16.8 per 1,000 children aged 8 years in 2014 is higher than previously reported estimates from the ADDM Network. Because the ADDM sites do not provide a representative sample of the entire United States, the combined prevalence estimates presented in this report cannot be generalized to all children aged 8 years in the United States. Consistent with reports from previous ADDM surveillance years, findings from 2014 were marked by variation in ASD prevalence when stratified by geographic area, sex, and level of intellectual ability. Differences in prevalence estimates between black and white children have diminished in most sites, but remained notable for Hispanic children. For 2014, results from application of the DSM-IV-TR and DSM-5 case definitions were similar, overall and when stratified by sex, race/ethnicity, DSM-IV-TR diagnostic subtype, or level of intellectual ability. Public Health Action Beginning with surveillance year 2016, the DSM-5 case definition will serve as the basis for ADDM estimates of ASD prevalence in future surveillance reports. Although the DSM-IV-TR case definition will eventually be phased out, it will be applied in a limited geographic area to offer additional data for comparison. Future analyses will examine trends in the continued use of DSM-IV-TR diagnoses, such as autistic disorder, PDD-NOS, and Asperger disorder in health and education records, documentation of symptoms consistent with DSM-5 terminology, and how these trends might influence estimates of ASD prevalence over time. The latest findings from the ADDM Network provide evidence that the prevalence of ASD is higher than previously reported estimates and continues to vary among certain racial/ethnic groups and communities. With prevalence of ASD ranging from 13.1 to 29.3 per 1,000 children aged 8 years in different communities throughout the United States, the need for behavioral, educational, residential, and occupational services remains high, as does the need for increased research on both genetic and nongenetic risk factors for ASD.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                MMWR Surveill Summ
                MMWR Surveill Summ
                SS
                MMWR Surveillance Summaries
                Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
                1546-0738
                1545-8636
                03 December 2021
                03 December 2021
                : 70
                : 11
                : 1-16
                Affiliations
                National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, CDC, Atlanta, Georgia; University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah; University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota; University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas; University of California, San Diego, California; Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey; Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee; Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland; University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona; Oak Ridge Institute for Research and Education, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
                Author notes
                Corresponding author: Matthew J. Maenner, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, CDC. Telephone: 404-498-3072; Email: mmaenner@ 123456cdc.gov .
                Article
                ss7011a1
                10.15585/mmwr.ss7011a1
                8639024
                34855725
                1670b4ff-297c-4e02-8b16-98476968ffd5

                All material in the MMWR Series is in the public domain and may be used and reprinted without permission; citation as to source, however, is appreciated.

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