At CNN, Sanjay Gupta and John King discuss the CDC data:
Also at CNN, Geraldine Dawson of Autism Speaks talks about the data:
At the Los Angeles Times, Alan Zarembo writes:
Some experts questioned the validity of relying on records to estimate the disorder's true prevalence.
David Mandell, an autism expert at the University of Pennsylvania, said the CDC's numbers primarily reflect the degree to which the diagnosis and services have taken hold in different places and among different groups.
"As the diagnosis is associated with more and more services, this becomes a less and less rigorous way to determine the prevalence of autism," he said, referring to the CDC's methods.
The federal agency found that Utah, which has widespread screening programs, had the highest rate—1 child in 47. The state was closely followed by New Jersey, which prides itself on its autism services, at 1 in 49.
At the bottom was Alabama, one of the poorest states in the country. Its autism rate fell 20% between 2006 and 2008 — from 1 in 167 to 1 in 208.
CDC officials acknowledged the limitations of their analysis. In surveillance areas where researchers had access only to health records, and not school records, prevalence estimates were generally lower. Including the capital city of Raleigh in North Carolina's surveillance area dramatically increased the state's rate.
"Our study really is more of a study of demographic differences and population differences," said Jon Baio, a CDC epidemiologist and principal investigator on the report.