Parent-Reported Autism Rising; Or Is It Just Increased Reporting?

Prevalence of Parent-Reported Autism Up in School Children
Prevalence of Parent-Reported Autism Up in School Children

(HealthDay News) – The prevalence of parent-reported autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in school-aged children appears to have increased, but that may be due to new diagnoses in children whose ASD had previously gone unrecognized, according to research published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's March 20 National Health Statistics Reports.

Stephen J. Blumberg, PhD, of the National Center for Health Statistics in Atlanta, and colleagues drew data from the 2007 and 2011–2012 National Survey of Children's Health to evaluate the prevalence of parent-reported ASD in children 6–17 years old between the two time periods.

The researchers observed a significant increase in the prevalence of parent-reported ASD in 2011–2012 from 2007, to 2% from 1.16%. Much of this prevalence increase happened in children who were first diagnosed in or after 2008.

"The results of the cohort analyses increase confidence that differential survey measurement error over time was not a major contributor to observed changes in the prevalence of parent-reported ASD," Blumberg and colleagues conclude. "Rather, much of the prevalence increase from 2007 to 2011–2012 for school-aged children was the result of diagnoses of children with previously unrecognized ASD."

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