Who is affected by autism

  • Around the world, about 1 in every 1,000 children has autism.1 And an even larger number may show some features of autism. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study shows that as many as 1 in 150 children age 8 have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 14 areas of the U.S.2, 3
  • It is likely that most cases of autism are passed down through families. Couples who have one child with autism are more likely to have a second child with autism than couples who do not have a child with autism.1
  • Boys are up to 4 times more likely than girls to have autism.4

Studies show that autism may be recognized more often than it used to. This may be because of better detection and a broader definition of autism. For example, some children who were previously diagnosed with mental retardation are now being diagnosed with autism. More study is needed to find the reason for the increased diagnosis of autism.

Citations

  1. Volkmar FR, et al. (2005). Pervasive developmental disorders. In BJ Sadock, VA Sadock, eds., Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 8th ed., vol. 2, pp. 3164–3182. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Williams.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders — autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, 14 sites, United States, 2002. MMWR, 56(SS-1): 12–28. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss5601.pdf.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders — autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, six sites, United States, 2000. MMWR, 56(SS-1): 1–11. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss5601.pdf.
  4. Volkmar F, et al. (1999). Practice parameters for the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 38(12, Suppl): 32S–54S.

Last Updated: May 19, 2008

Author: Jeannette Curtis

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Fred Volkmar, MD - Child Psychiatry

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