A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed a slight growth in the number of children being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the US.
The report showed that approximately one in 59 children were affected by ASD in 2014, an increase from the previously reported one in 68.
This data was obtained from the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, established to provide estimates of the prevalence of the disorder among children aged eight.
Researchers believe the change in prevalence may be due to improved diagnosis in minority populations.
CDC National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities science associate director Stuart Shapira said: “Autism prevalence among black and Hispanic children is approaching that of white children.
“The higher number of black and Hispanic children now being identified with autism could be due to more effective outreach in minority communities and increased efforts to have all children screened for autism so they can get the services they need.”
The ADDM Network gathers estimates from 11 communities across the country, representing about 8% of eight-year-old children in the US.
These estimates varied widely among the 11 communities, which researchers think could be due to differences in diagnosis and documentation of the condition. A community in New Jersey had the highest prevalence of 2.9%.
Based on the data, researchers concluded that more work is required to detect autism at a younger age, allowing early intervention considered necessary for children to reach their full potential.