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Thursday, August 31, 2023

Prevalence and Underdiagnosis in NY-NJ Metro

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss evaluationdiagnosis, and the uncertainty of prevalence estimates.

Walter Zahorodny and colleagues have an article at the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders: "Prevalence and Characteristics of Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the New York-New Jersey Metropolitan AreaBrief Reportith Autism Spectrum Disorder in the New York-New Jersey Metropolitan Area."


Almost all epidemiologic studies estimating autism spectrum disorder (ASD) prevalence have focused on school-age children. This study provides the first population-based data on the prevalence and expression of ASD among adolescents in a large US metropolitan region.

Active multiple source ASD surveillance of adolescents aged 16-years was conducted according to the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network method in a four-county New Jersey metropolitan region. Prevalence estimates are provided, characteristics are described and comparison of the distribution and characteristics of ASD is offered for this cohort, at 8 and 16-years.

ASD prevalence was 17.7 per 1000 (95% CI: 16.3–19.2)]. One-in-55 males and one in 172 females were identified with ASD. High-SES was positively associated with ASD and White adolescents had higher ASD prevalence (22.2 per 1000) than Hispanic adolescents (13.1 per 1000). One in four study-confirmed individuals with ASD did not have an ASD diagnosis. A majority of ASD adolescents (58.8%) had a co-occurring neuropsychiatric disorder. White and High-SES individuals had greater likelihood of co-occurring disorder. The demographic distribution and functional profile of ASD was similar in this cohort at 8 and 16-years.

Approximately one-in-55 adolescents in our area had ASD, in 2014, and one-in-4 16-year-olds with ASD was not diagnosed. A majority (3-in-5) of the adolescents with ASD had a co-occurring neuropsychiatric disorder. ASD under-identification and the high frequency of co-disorders in adolescents with ASD pose significant challenges to care and support.