Research shows a higher prevalence of autism in CDC’s ADDM Network

One in 44 (2.3%) 8-year-olds have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder according to an analysis of data from 2018 published today in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Surveillance Summaries. This is more than the March 2020 estimation, which revealed a prevalence of 1 out 54 (8.9%) 8-year-olds. The 2018 data are from 11 communities in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) network.

A second report, which included children born in 2014 (4-year olds) within the same 11 communities, shows that there has been progress in early identification of autism. These children were more likely by 50% to receive an autism diagnosis or special education classification by 48 months of age , compared to children born in 2010 (8-year-olds).

The substantial advancement in early identification is great news because the earlier that children are diagnosed with autism, the earlier they can be connected to services and support. Accessing these services at earlier age can help children perform better at school and enjoy a better quality of life.”

Karen Remley, M.D., Director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

Racial and ethnic differences continue to persist

In several of the 11 communities in the ADDM Network, fewer Hispanic children were identified with autism than Black or White children. A higher proportion of Black children diagnosed with autism was identified with intellectual disability than White or Hispanic autism children. These differences could relate in part to the accessibility of services that help diagnose and assist children with autism. Knowing the characteristics and prevalence of children with autism could aid communities in identifying the autism spectrum in all children early and enrolling them in services.

Differentialities in autism prevalence among communities

The prevalence of autism in the 11 ADDM communities varied from 1 in 60 (1.7 percent) children in Missouri to 1 in 26 (3.9%) children in California. These differences could be due to the way in which communities are identifying children with autism. Some communities provide more services for children with autism and their families.


The CDC’s ADDM network provides an estimate of characteristics and prevalence of autism in 8-year-olds and 4-year-olds in 11 communities across Arizona, Arkansas and California. It is a tracking system that allows users to access data from 11 communities in Arizona and California.

ADDM is not a representative sample of the United States. Prior to that, ADDM reports were published every year in the spring. In 2018 CDC updated and simplified the ADDM methodology and data system to reflect the community-based identification of autism by a healthcare provider diagnosis or special education eligibility. These changes provide similar prevalence estimates as the previous method and allow for faster publication of results.

Tools for parents, caregivers, early childhood educators, and healthcare professionals

The CDC’s “Learn the Signs” program. Act Early” program provides free resources in English, Spanish, and other languages, to track children’s development starting at the age of 2 months. The Milestone Tracker Mobile app from the CDC can be used by caregivers and parents to monitor their child’s development and share it with their healthcare professionals.

Content Source:

Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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