Alarming Autism Increase

Find a CureYesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the surveillance survey report, “Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years.” A shocking 1 in 68 US children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to the new report. A previous report, “Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in US Children, 1997-2008” found that 1 in 6 US children have developmental disabilities.


Developmental disabilities (DD) are a group of conditions that are due to impairment of motor skills, mental ability, sensory communication, the nervous system, metabolism, or other capacities.

DD are caused by genetic or chromosome abnormalities, exposure to toxic substances, environmental contaminants, certain viral infections during pregnancy, and preterm birth. Examples include Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, Cerebral Palsy, Blindness, Parkinson’s Disease, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Spina Bifida, Fragile X Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD).


In May 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-Fifth Edition (DSM-V) updated the classification for Pervasive Developmental Disorders. This grouping of disorders, including Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, and Childhood Degenerative Disorder (CDD), has been removed and replaced with the general term of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

p0327-autism-spectrum-disorderWHAT THE STATISTICS SAY

US Children with Developmental Disabilities in 2008 (DD): 1 in 6

Increase in DD between 1997 and 2008: 17.1%

Increase in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) between 1997 and 2008: 33.0%

Children with Autism in 1980: 1 in 5000

Children with Autism in 1990: 1 in 500

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in 2000: 1 in 150

Children with ASD in 2004: 1 in 124

Children with ASD in 2006: 1 in 110

Increase in ASD between 1997 and 2008: 289.5%

Children with ASD in 2012: 1 in 88

Children with ASD in 2014: 1 in 68

Increase in Children with ASD between 2012 and 2014: 29%

Children with ASD in Alabama: 1 in 175

Children with ASD in New Jersey: 1 in 45

Girls with ASD: 1 in 189

Boys with ASD: 1 in 42

ASD Children with average or above average intellectual ability: 46%

DD Chlldren on Medicaid to DD Children with Private Insurance: 2:1

Male Prevalence of DD to Female Prevalence of DD: 2:1

These statistics are from the “Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years.” and “Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in US Children, 1997-2008” 


A recent study in The Annals of Epidemiology identifies three perinatal risk factors for ASD: Babies born too early, too small, or by Cesarean. Reducing these birth outcomes could reduce ASD by 12 to 14%. What’s responsible for the other 86%? What do you think? Answer this poll.


PEGGY-headshotPeggy O’Mara is the editor and publisher of She founded in 1995 and was its editor-in chief until 2012. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four and grandmother of two.


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Peggy O'Mara

About Peggy O'Mara

Editor and Publisher of Longtime natural living advocate, award winning writer, and independent thinker.

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