The Bergen Record reports:
New Jersey's autism rate nearly doubled in four years, according to new research published Monday that expands upon previous national studies.
Of the 8-year-old children in four sample New Jersey counties, one in 57 had autism in 2006, compared with one in 94 just four years earlier, researchers from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey found.
The findings represent "the best data we have for knowing the accurate complete prevalence of autism in our region," said Walter Zahorodny, the study's lead author. They were based on an analysis of school and medical records for all children living in Hudson, Essex, Union and Ocean counties who were born in 1998, a total of more than 30,000. The sample provided a good cross-section of New Jersey in terms of ethnicity and social-economic background.
New Jersey's autism rate is among the highest in the nation.
"The question is, where does the trend level off?" Zahorodny said.From the abstract in Autism:
High baseline autism spectrum disorder prevalence estimates in New Jersey led to a follow-up surveillance. The objectives were to determine autism spectrum disorder prevalence in the year 2006 in New Jersey and to identify changes in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder or in the characteristics of the children with autism spectrum disorder, between 2002 and 2006. The cohorts included 30,570 children, born in 1998 and 28,936 children, born in 1994, residing in Essex, Hudson, Union, and Ocean counties, New Jersey. Point prevalence estimates by sex, ethnicity, autism spectrum disorder subtype, and previous autism spectrum disorder diagnosis were determined. For 2006, a total of 533 children with autism spectrum disorder were identified, consistent with prevalence of 17.4 per 1000 (95% confidence interval = 15.9–18.9), indicating a significant increase in the autism spectrum disorder prevalence (p < 0.001), between 2002 (10.6 per 1000) and 2006. The rise in autism spectrum disorder was broad, affecting major demographic groups and subtypes. Boys with autism spectrum disorder outnumbered girls by nearly 5:1. Autism spectrum disorder prevalence was higher among White children than children of other ethnicities. Additional studies are needed to specify the influence of better awareness of autism spectrum disorder prevalence estimates and to identify possible autism spectrum disorder risk factors. More resources are necessary to address the needs of individuals affected by autism spectrum disorder.