KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Autism Rate Soars To 1 in 88 Children

The number of children with autism in America has climbed 23 percent in the last two years, but the increase could be partially attributable to better diagnoses, officials say.

Boston Globe: Rate Of Autism Diagnosis In Children Rises To 1 In 88 
The number of children identified as having an autism spectrum disorder in the United States is soaring, with roughly 1 in 88 being found to have this condition, according to a study released Thursday morning by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new figure reflects a 23 percent increase compared with the autism rate the public health agency released two years ago (Wen, 3/29). 

The Baltimore Sun: 1 In 80 Maryland Children Diagnosed With Autism, CDC Says
One in 88 American children has an autism spectrum disorder, according to a new estimate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate is 23 percent higher than one the agency released three years ago. Federal officials said some of the increase is attributable to better diagnoses, though it's not clear how much (Cohn, 3/29).

Detroit Free Press: 1 In 88 Children Has Autism, CDC Now Says
On the same day Michigan lawmakers may finalize legislation requiring insurers to pay for certain behavioral therapy for autistic children, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have boosted prevalence rates once again. One in 88 children now have autism spectrum disorder, according to a report released today which drew from 2008 data from 14 communities. Prevalence rates varied, depending on gender, geography and race. Previously, the CDC estimated 1 in 110 children had autism spectrum disorder (Erb, 3/29).

MedPage Today: Autism Rate Climbs Again 
CDC director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, noted on a conference call with reporters that doctors have gotten better at diagnosing autism and communities have gotten better at providing needed services. "So at this point I think there is the possibility that the increase … is entirely the result of better detection," Frieden said, while acknowledging the uncertainty (Neale, 3/29). 

NPR's SHOTS blog: Autism Rates Jump Again, As Diagnosis Improves 
A survey released yesterday by Autism Speaks estimates that direct and indirect costs of caring for children with autism costs $126 billion a year. But that number is based on the 2006 estimate of prevalence, which is 1 in 110. Bump that up to 1 in 88, and the cost would be $137 billion a year, Roithmayr said (Shute, 3/29).

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