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Autism Prevalence on the Rise, CDC Says

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that 1 in 59 children are on the spectrum.

The new rate published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report is up from the last estimate of 1 in 68 reported in 2016 and represents a 150 percent increase over the rate of 1 in 150 at the start of this century.

The latest estimate comes from data collected in 2014 through the federal agency’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, which tracks prevalence of the condition among 8-year-old children in 11 communities by reviewing health and educational records.

Some of the increase in autism prevalence could be related to better identification among minority children, the CDC said.

“Autism prevalence among black and Hispanic children is approaching that of white children,” said Dr. Stuart Shapira, associate director for science at the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “The higher number of black and Hispanic children now being identified with autism could be due to more effective outreach in minority communities and increased efforts to have all children screened for autism so they can get the services they need.”

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