According to a new survey conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), 1-in-50 U.S. school-age children suffer from autism. That figure surpasses an earlier government estimate of 1-in-88.
If the estimate released by the CDC this past Wednesday is accurate, it would mean that more than 1 million U.S. children have autism. However, critics have questioned the methodology of the survey.
The survey estimate is derived from a national phone survey of more than 95,000 parents in 2011 and 2012. Less than a quarter of those parents contacted agreed to answer questions relating to autism, and the survey is likely skewed. This is because parents with autistic children were more likely than other parents to participate in the survey.
The 1-in-88 estimate derived from what many consider to be a more thorough and thus accurate study, because that study utilized medical and school records rather than data from parents to derive information regarding the prevalence of autism.
Despite the potential shortcomings of the new study, officials at the CDC maintain that the survey shows that numerous families across the country are affected by autism and that remedial action is warranted.
Michael Rosanoff, of the advocacy group Autism Speaks, says that the United States has long been underestimating the prevalence of autism. Currently, there are no definitive tests to detect autism. Diagnoses are judgment-based determinations made by physicians observing a child’s behavior.
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