News from the FDA/CDC

Autism prevalence: ‘Diminishing disparity’ between black and white children



For the first time since detailed measurement began in 2000, there was no significant difference in autism prevalence between black and white 8-year-olds in 2016, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Age when 8-year-olds first received a comprehensive evalution MDedge News

The latest analysis from the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network puts the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at 18.3 per 1,000 children aged 8 years among black children and 18.5 per 1,000 in white children, Matthew J. Maenner, PhD, and associates said in MMWR Surveillance Summaries. Overall prevalence was 18.5 per 1,000 children, or 1 in 54 children, aged 8 years.

“This diminishing disparity in ASD prevalence might signify progress toward earlier and more equitable identification of ASD,” they wrote, while also noting that “black children with ASD were more likely than white children to have an intellectual disability” and were less likely to undergo evaluation by age 36 months.

Among non-Hispanic white children, 45.3% had received a comprehensive evaluation for ASD before the age of 36 months, compared with 39.8% of non-Hispanic black children and 42.9% of Hispanic children, said Dr. Maenner of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

The overall rate of early evaluation was 44% for the cohort of 3,981 children who were born in 2008 and included in the 2016 analysis of the 11 ADDM Network sites, they reported.

There was, however, considerable variation in the timing of that initial evaluation for ASD among the sites, which largely consisted of one to seven counties in most states, except for Arkansas (all 75 counties), Tennessee (11 counties), and Wisconsin (10 counties), Dr. Maenner and associates noted.

The two ADDM Network sites at the extremes of that variation were North Carolina and Arkansas. In North Carolina, almost twice as many children (62.3%) had an evaluation by 36 months than in Arkansas (32.6%), although Arkansas closed the gap a bit by evaluating 21.8% of children aged 37-48 months, compared with 11.3% in North Carolina, the investigators said.

“ASD continues to be a public health concern; the latest data from the ADDM Network underscore the ongoing need for timely and accessible developmental assessments, educational supports, and services for persons with ASD and their families,” they concluded.

SOURCE: Maenner MJ et al. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2020 Mar 27;69(SS-4):1-12.

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