In the wake of today’s new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stating that autism now affects 1 in every 110 American children, Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, called on the federal government to immediately step up its efforts – and dramatically increase funding – to address the growing national autism public health crisis.
“Now that the government has confirmed that one percent of American children have autism, the question becomes what it will take to get our elected leaders to wake up and take on this crisis in an appropriate way,” said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. “Must we wait until every member of Congress has a child or grandchild with autism, or until every household is impacted by this devastating disorder? With nearly 750,000 children on the autism spectrum, we need meaningful action now that acknowledges the scope of this problem and allocates the resources necessary to take the fight against autism to a new level. We cannot expect the millions of people impacted by this crisis to wait another 20 years for answers.”
The CDC report, published in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), states that 1% or 1 in every 110 children has been diagnosed with autism, including 1 in 70 boys. This represents a staggering 57 percent increase from 2002 to 2006, and a 600 percent increase in just the past 20 years. Other significant findings include that a broader definition of ASDs does not account for the increase, and while improved and earlier diagnosis accounts for some of the increase, it does not fully account for the increase. Thus, a true increase in the risk for ASD cannot be ruled out. Even though parents typically express concerns about their child’s developmental progress before age three, the average age of diagnoses is not until 53 months, although diagnoses are occurring earlier than found in the 2002 study. The report uses the same methodology that produced the CDC’s 2007 prevalence findings of 1 in 150 children with autism.
“This study provides strong evidence that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder is, in fact, dramatically increasing,” said Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., Autism Speaks chief science officer, who noted that recent research indicates that a significant amount of the increase in autism prevalence cannot be explained by better, broader or earlier diagnosis.
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Autism was first identified in 1943 by Dr. Leo Kanner of Johns Hopkins Hospital. At the same time, a German scientist, Dr. Hans Asperger, described a milder form of the disorder that is now known as Asperger Syndrome (read more). These two disorders are listed in the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as two of the five developmental disorders that fall under the autism spectrum disorders. The others are Rett Syndrome, PDD NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder), and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. All of these disorders are characterized by varying degrees of impairment in communication skills and social abilities, and also by repetitive behaviors. For more discussion on the range of diagnoses that comprise autism spectrum disorder, click here.
Potential cure: Adult Stem Cell therapy: