News & Events

Press Release – For Immediate Release March 31, 2016

“Prevalence and Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2012.” MMWR, Surveillance Summaries, Vol. 65/No. 3, April 1, 2016

Researchers at Rutgers--New Jersey Medical School contributed to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating autism prevalence. The combined average (2012) prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) among school-age children in the eleven-state Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network was approximately 15 per 1,000, unchanged from 2010.

In contrast, the New Jersey ASD prevalence estimate was 25 per 1,000 -- a highpoint for U.S. autism estimates and an increase of 12% since 2010. Dr. Walter Zahorodny, the lead New Jersey investigator and a member of the New Jersey Medical School’s Pediatrics Department, said he was “not surprised by the continued escalation in ASD or the scope of challenges related to serving these children” who have complex behavioral, educational and medical needs. Zahorodny added that he was “disappointed that we have not made progress in uncovering the risk factors for autism, in spite of significant scientific research over the past decade.”

The study published today also identified significant disparities in the evaluation and diagnosis of ASD. For example, ASD children from minority and low-income communities were less likely than their affluent peers to receive a professional evaluation before 36 months. Acknowledging this disparity is important, according to Zahorodny, because “concerted public health education campaigns, especially if accompanied by broad use of reliable autism screeners, can make a big difference in this regard, with improved early detection of ASD leading to earlier, more focused and hopefully more effective interventions.” Zahorodny said that his group is developing such a campaign for select New Jersey regions and that he is confident that “these efforts can make a significant impact for the greatest number of underserved youngsters.”

Additional information is available from the New Jersey Autism Study website: http://njms.rutgers.edu/departments/pediatrics/njas/ and the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

Walter Zahorodny, PhD, the Principal Investigator of the New Jersey Autism Study can be reached for interview by contacting 973-972-9773 or zahorodn@njms.rutgers.edu

MMWR 2016
ADDM (2012) Community Report