Newly published research led by Walter Zahorodny, PhD, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), shows that over a four year period in the past decade, the documented prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) rose substantially in a sampling of four New Jersey counties. The new study uses 2006 data compiled in 58 communities across Essex, Hudson, Ocean and Union Counties, and shows a prevalence during that year of 17.4 children per one thousand. That compares to a prevalence in 2002 of 10.6 per thousand in those same communities, which had been found in an earlier study. The new research, which mirrored the methods of the previous study in order to make as accurate a comparison as possible of the two years, has been published online in the journal Autism.
The study finds that ASD prevalence rose over the four year period both for boys (from 17.0 to 28.7 per thousand) and for girls (from 4.1 to 5.9 per thousand). ASD prevalence also varied by ethnicity, with white non-Hispanic children showing the highest levels of ASD, 20.4 per thousand in 2006 compared with 15.0 per thousand for black, non-Hispanic; 14.7 per thousand for Hispanic; and 14.0 per thousand among Asian children.