Potential Causes for Increase in Autism Diagnoses

Credit: Simons Foundation

Many reports and studies are coming out with startling statistics of autism on the rise. The CDC reports that 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and according to USA Today, autism rates have jumped 30% between 2008 and 2010.  These numbers can be alarming especially when just one generation back, autism was something we rarely heard of.

A new study conducted in Denmark has looked at the incidence of autism reported on a yearly basis. Researchers included only people up to 65 years of age using records from the Danish Psychiatric Central Research Registry. Between 1995 and 2010 nearly 15,000 people received a diagnosis along the autism spectrum. This was found to be an overall increase from 9 diagnoses per 100,000 people to approximately 39 diagnoses per 100,000 people.

Although researchers were not surprised by the increase, they were surprised that the number of males with a new diagnosis quadrupled from 13.2 to 58 per 100,000 people between 1995 and 2010. Whereas female diagnoses increased sevenfold from 2.6 to 18.6 per 100,000 people.

Professor of population health sciences and pediatrics, Maureen Durkin, says that better diagnostic practices could explain the increasing incidences of autism that we see worldwide. As more attention is given to symptoms as doctors are now screening much more than before, they are more likely to see it.

After analyzing their results based on age demographics, researchers found that children between 4 and 13 make up about 63 percent of the new autism cases. The fastest increases in new cases diagnosed are between 14 and 20 years old, and individuals between 21 and 65 years account for about 9 percent of new cases. However, the increase in diagnosis in adults has to do with the recognition of cases that were previously missed—an individual cannot develop autism as an adult.

Here at Shema Kolainu and ICare4Autism we understand the importance of increasing awareness and education surrounding the causes, consequences, and effects of autism. So although we are not alarmed by the increasing cases of autism we still remain concerned about misconceptions about autism and making treatments and therapies available to younger generations.

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