CDC Autism Stats Show Wide Geographic Variation — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
March 28, 2014

CDC Autism Stats Show Wide Geographic Variation

By Joe Elia

In 2010, 1 in 68 U.S. 8-year-olds in a surveillance network had autism spectrum disorder, according to MMWR.

The network, which comprises 11 sites that evaluate clinical data as well as school reports, found the prevalence per 1,000 8-year-olds varied from 5.7 (Alabama) to 21.9 (New Jersey). The condition was roughly four times more prevalent in boys, and the median age of earliest known diagnosis was about 4 years.

The authors point out that the sites are not necessarily representative of the entire country, and they warn against generalizing the results. They call for lowering the age at which children receive their first evaluation for the disorder and are enrolled in support systems.

Asked to comment on the report’s wider implications, NEJM Journal Watch child psychiatrist Barbara Geller observed that the apparently increasing prevalence of autism, along with its prenatal onset as documented in genetic and neuroimaging studies, “warrants informing pregnant patients about risk factors.” Those risk factors include family history and the use of antidepressants during pregnancy.

Reader Comments (3)

julie morgan Other Healthcare Professional, Pediatric Subspecialty, withybush general hospital,Special Care ,pembrokeshire,Wales

Autistic spectrum disorders affects a great number of infants born prematurely.The inspiring work of Professor Samantha Johnson in this field is ground breaking in my opinion. She uses the term "Premature Behavioural Phenotype" which comprises linked patterns of behaviours amongst premature infants even the groups born at 34 weeks. I really believe that poor attachment may also be a factor in the psychiatric and emotional sequelae of premature infant due to mal-alignment of neural pathway
trajectories because mothers do not understand their infants behaviour right from birth and negative feedback between the dyad results.This is why it is crucial to educate parents about their babies communication as documented by Professor Heidleise Als(Harvard) and her NIDCAP model ,and to continue the scaffolding of traumatised families post discharge with baby massage classes where attachment really is achieved through debriefing and coming to terms with their "grief". result .Julie Morgan Bsc(hons)PGCE,NNEB CIMI

marie grettve Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice, Sweden

Or could autism be seen as initially a childs reaction to overwhelming stimulii - a "freeze" or a "flight" reaction - by shielding off - like the parent/carer who needs antidepressants to be able to cope? Both child and parent being genetically predisposed to increased sensitivity?

Conrad Physician, Pediatrics/Adolescent Medicine, Retired

Could it be that Autism is related to some form of parental neglect or early bonding failure? In my practice I observed that moms especially were not involved in direct care of the child. Any other comments? Conrad

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