In 2002 the Center for Disease Control estimated that autism affected about 1 in 150 children. By 2012 the CDC estimate had increased to 1 in 88. Now, according to the latest revision of the estimate recently released, autism affects 1 in 50 children. That’s a phenomenal 300 percent increase in 11 years. But do the numbers reflect a real increase in the incidence of autism or are previously undiagnosed cases now being diagnosed? The authors of the study tend to think it’s the latter, but others question whether the increase can be explained entirely by wider diagnoses.
In recent decades there has been a consistent increase in the reported prevalence of autism. Two National Health Interview Surveys, national telephone surveys conducted by the CDC, showed prevalence to increase almost four-fold between a 1997 – 1999 survey and a 2006 – 2008 survey. Concurrently, the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network showed a 78 percent increase in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), that includes all variants of disease related to autism, between 2002 and 2008.