Harlan Still & Koch

CDC releases child autism rates for Missouri, other states

It may surprise readers to learn that, when it comes children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, not every state is equal. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that New Jersey leads the U.S. in autism prevalence, well ahead of Missouri and other states.

According to NJ.com, in its latest report on the subject the CDC found that one out of every 41 New Jersey kids had autism in 2012, the last year covered in the study. Factoring in that autism is more common for boys, the CDC estimated that one out 26 boys in New Jersey had autism.

Does this mean that something about New Jersey puts children at higher risk of developing autism? Probably not.

The CDC examined medical and birth records in 11 states, including Missouri, to come up with its figures. An expert at Rutgers University-New Jersey Medical School believes that the rates in other states have been dramatically underestimated.

He specifically cited Missouri as one of the states with an autism rate that is likely higher than currently known. He noted that the official numbers put the autism rate here at half of New Jersey’s. The CDC reported that the rate of children with autism actually dropped by nearly 20 percent, with no explanation.

So the problem may be that parents, teachers and doctors in some states are quicker to observe possible signs of autism in children than in others. Nationally, the CDC estimated that one in 68 U.S. children have an autism spectrum disorder, the same figure it announced in 2014. However, experts agree that it will be some time before the national rate peaks.

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