Autism Prevalence in Adults More Than Doubled in Less Than a Decade

November 07, 2023

Most significant Increase Seen in Adults Aged 25 to 34, with a 195% Jump in Prevalence

A recent brief report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry shows that autism prevalence has more than doubled among adults over 18 enrolled in Medicaid in the last decade. Researchers at Boston University analyzed Medicaid data between 2011 and 2019 to identify any claims for autism and found over 403,000 adult Medicaid beneficiaries with a diagnosis. These findings reveal that the incidence of autism increased from 4.2 per 1,000 enrollees in 2011 to 9.5 per 1,000 enrollees in 2019, with the largest increase seen in adults aged 25 to 34, who had a 195% jump in prevalence. This diagnosis rise among adults follows a steep increase in autism prevalence in children in recent decades. The report also demonstrated that approximately three-quarters of those on the spectrum were male, and the study found that the percentage of Medicaid enrollees with autism and intellectual disability declined throughout the period studied from 62% to 46%. The authors conclude that despite difficulties identifying autism in adults, there is a substantial and growing population of adults on the spectrum enrolled in Medicaid. Furthermore, autism advocates are concerned about the rapid increase, pointing out that Medicaid will need to intensify its support to meet the needs of this increasing population. 

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