New findings reinforce the urgency of autism as a major global public health crisis

Autism Speaks together with Autism Speaks Canada, North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today responded to a new study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics' journal Pediatrics that found a parent-reported autism prevalence rate of one in every 91 American children, including one in 58 boys. The most recent ASD prevalence estimate reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States in 2007 was approximately one in 150 (including one in 94 boys), making autism the most prevalent childhood developmental disorder. Autism Speaks and Autism Speaks Canada said the new findings reinforced the fact that autism is an urgent and growing global public health crisis that affects most individuals across their lifespan and demands a commensurate level of action from both the public and private sectors.

"There is converging evidence that autism spectrum disorders affect about one percent of the population," said Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer. "This study further emphasized that autism affects boys at a significantly higher rate. It is imperative that more resources be given to autism research so we can understand the causes and biology of autism and develop more effective treatments."

"Canadians have, in the past, used CDC statistics to describe prevalence rates in Canada. While this study was conducted with data gathered from parental reports in the United States, we have no reason to believe that the prevalence rates for Canada or for other countries would differ significantly from what is reported in this newest study," said Suzanne Lanthier, Executive Director of Autism Speaks Canada. "The number is shocking but not surprising for those of us who are in constant contact with families and service providers. We hear, first hand, about lengthy wait lists for diagnosis and treatments on a daily basis."

"These new numbers should serve as a renewed call to action to take on what is clearly a major public health crisis not only in this country, but around the world," said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. "People with autism are still not getting the therapies they need and adequate medical care for the medical conditions often associated with this disorder. And our society has yet to come to grips with the fact that this growing population of children with autism will become adults with autism who require a lifetime of services and support. We must act now to address these short and long-term challenges."

The Prevalence of Parent-Reported Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children in the United States, 2007 used data gathered as part of the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH), a national survey directed and funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 78,000 parents of children aged 3 to 17 years were asked whether their child currently had an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis - including autistic disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), or Asperger's Syndrome - or whether their child had been given that diagnosis in the past, but was no longer diagnosed with ASD.




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