U.S. Autism Prevalence Rate Soars to 1 in 59 Children

April 26, 2018

National Autism Organizations Demand Emergency Meeting with Secretary of Health and Human Services and Federal Autism Coordinator to Address Crisis

Related Links

Letter to HHS Officials

CDC Report: Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years – Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2014

Baltimore, MD, April 26, 2018 – SafeMinds, along with other national autism advocacy organizations, sent a letter today to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials demanding a meeting within the next 30 days to discuss the creation of a Federal Autism Strategic Plan to address the nation’s autism crisis. The urgent letter follows the release of a report this afternoon by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC report found that autism is now diagnosed in one in every 59 American children, representing 2 ½ times more autism in 12 years and a 15 percent increase in just two years.

Lisa Wiederlight, executive director of SafeMinds, stated, “The alarming increase in autism prevalence over the past 10 years signals the need for a significant change in the federal response to addressing autism in the United States. A more accountable, effective, and strategic plan is necessary to meet the needs of those with autism and their caregivers today. We’re hoping for a major overhaul of the current response as the Autism CARES Act is reauthorized.”

The CDC report, “Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders Among Children Aged 8 Years—Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2014,” states that in some of the communities represented in the network, nearly three percent of eight year-olds had an autism diagnosis in 2014. It uses the same methodology that produced the CDC’s 2010 prevalence findings of 1 in 68 children with autism.

The extraordinary cost of autism care is expected to escalate dramatically as prevalence continues to increase. University of California Davis health economists estimate the national cost of caring for all people with autism in the billions, heading towards $1 trillion. Their forecasts for autism-related medical, nonmedical, and productivity losses were $268 billion for 2015, and $461 billion for 2025. The researchers noted that if ASD prevalence continues to increase as it has in recent years while effective interventions and preventive treatments are not identified and made widely available, the costs could reach $1 trillion by 2025.

Notably, the economic and social costs related to the autism crisis will continue to impact every American taxpayer as funding and priorities are redirected into areas, including, but not limited to:

For more information on this topic, please visit safeminds.org/autismprevalence


ABOUT SAFEMINDS: SafeMinds is a national 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization formed in 2000. Its mission is to end the autism epidemic by promoting environmental research and effective treatments.

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