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Thursday, January 8, 2015

CDC Autism Monitoring

Michelle Diament reports at Disability Scoop:
Every two years, the CDC works with researchers at sites across the country to examine autism incidence in a variety of American communities. The most recent data from the agency’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network — collected in 2010 — suggests that autism affects 1 in 68 children.
This time, however, officials say they’re looking to learn more from the numbers.
For the first time, the CDC is asking researchers to consider the impact of changes to the diagnostic criteria for autism that took effect in 2013 with the publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The agency is also taking steps to determine how communities are responding to figures showing an increasing number of children on the spectrum.
As in the past, the 10 sites selected for the 2014 data collection will scrutinize medical and educational records for 8-year-old children in their area to determine how many fall on the autism spectrum. Meanwhile, six of the sites will also assess records for 4-year-old children.
But the records review will use two lenses — examining each case to determine if a child would qualify for an autism diagnosis under the current criteria in the DSM-5 and under the somewhat different definition in the manual’s previous edition.
What’s more, the CDC is asking research sites to collect information about how communities are using prevalence data.
The enhancements to the CDC’s autism surveillance efforts come as the agency’s methods have faced criticism. In an editorial published last summer, the editors of the journal Autism sharply questioned the reliability of figures culled from a records review alone.