CME Title


What is the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)?
Data from several studies that used the current criteria for diagnosing autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), such as Asperger’s disorder and pervasive developmental disabilities (PDD-NOS), found prevalence rates for ASDs between 2 and 6 per 1,000 individuals. Therefore, it can be summarized that between 1 in 500 (2/1,000) to 1 in 166 children (6/1,000) have an ASD.

How do the rates of ASDs compare with other childhood disabilities?
A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program, found the rate of autism for children ages 3 to 10 years to be 3.4 per 1,000 children which is lower than the rate for mental retardation (9.7 per 1,000 children); but higher then the rates for cerebral palsy (2.8 per 1,000 children), hearing loss (1.1 per 1,000 children) and vision impairment (0.9 per 1,000 children) found in the same study.

Approximately 2% of children under the age of 18 have a serious developmental disability (DD) and these include mental retardation, cerebral palsy, hearing loss and vision impairment. Of these serious DDs, mental retardation (or intellectual disability) is the most common. A genetic disorder often associated with having mental retardation (MR) or an intellectual disability (ID) that many people recognize is Down syndrome. Current information indicate that having Down syndrome occurs in 1 out of 800 births and is slightly less common than the ASDs. Approximately 17% of children have some type of developmental disability, including more mild conditions such as speech and language disorders, learning disabilities, and ADHD, which appear to be more common than the ASDs.

While developmental disabilities may affect a child’s speech or language, physical growth, psychological growth, self-care, or learning, children’s health may also be affected by diseases that impact adults as well. A common childhood disease, juvenile diabetes, is prevalent in approximately one in every 400 to 500 children and adolescents, which is in a similar range of the ASDs. However, the ASDs are more common than childhood cancer, which has a prevalence rate of 1.5 per 10,000 children (1 in 300 males and 1 in 333 females have a probability of developing cancer by age 20 according to the National Cancer Institute). 


Autism is more common than diabetes and cancer.
The prevalence of autism may be as much as:
Click on the correct letter.
A. 1 in 166
B. 1 in 1,000
C. 1 in 2,600
D. 1 in 10,000