CHICAGO (March 27, 2014) -- In response to new data today from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention that 1 in 68 U.S. children have been diagnosed with an
autism spectrum disorder, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) highlights
the ongoing and urgent need for culturally sensitive screening and access to
effective interventions for all children.
“The AAP is working to help make pediatric practices more
equipped to provide ongoing care to the many children with autism,” said Dr.
James Perrin, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP. “These rising rates certainly
underscore the need to improve our understanding of the causes of autism and to
work on prevention.”
The CDC data were collected as part of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities
Monitoring Network and were published today in the CDC’s
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The data indicate the number of children diagnosed with autism
spectrum disorder who were 8 years old in 2010. The prevalence represents a 30
percent increase in the past two years.
The AAP advocates for early screening for autism spectrum
disorders, early diagnosis, and timely referral for effective intervention,
coordinated through the medical home. Research shows that early intervention
can considerably improve children’s long-term development and social behaviors.
The AAP remains committed to providing its 62,000 member pediatricians with the
tools and training they need to appropriately identify children with autism
spectrum disorders and refer them to the treatment and services they need.
“The prevalence data makes even more important the Academy’s
focus on early screening, identification and referral for intervention for all children, and our work to support
collaborative medical homes for children, youth and adults with autism spectrum
disorder,” said Susan Hyman, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP autism subcommittee.
“It’s critical that we as a society do not become numb to
these numbers,” Dr. Hyman said. “They remind us of the work we need to do in
educating clinicians and parents in effective interventions for all children,
including those with developmental disabilities.”
The AAP urges Congress to reauthorize the Combatting Autism
Act, which has led to significant advances in early intervention, behavioral
treatments, and understanding of the causes of autism. Today’s numbers
highlight the need to immediately reauthorize this legislation before funding
The AAP is also partnering with other federal organizations
in the Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive program,
launching today. Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! is a coordinated effort by
programs in the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of
Education to encourage developmental and behavioral screening and support for
children, families, and the providers who care for them. The AAP collaborated
with these federal partners and will share information on this comprehensive
initiative with AAP members.
Information for pediatricians and families can be found at www.aap.org/autism.
Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians,
pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated
to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and
young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.