WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to a newly-released study, the number of children and teens living on the autism spectrum – a range of neurodevelopmental conditions primarily characterized by difficulties in social interactions and differences in communication – has massively spiked in recent years, with a whopping 52 percent more identified with the disorder in the United States between 2017 and 2020 than in previous years.
Reports indicate that currently, one in every 30 children are diagnosed with autism, which can manifest in the form of a variety of behavioral and cognitive symptoms, including – but not limited to – restricted and repetitive behaviors, intense interests, and unusual responses to sensory stimuli.
The study, carried out by public health researchers at Guangdong Pharmaceutical University in China, was published in JAMA Pediatrics on Monday and utilized data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual National Health Interview Survey. However, the study itself did not delve into the potential causes for such an intense increase in cases of autism in such a short span of time.
The study indicated that the recorded number of cases of autism in the U.S. has steadily climbed since 2014, with a slight lull between 2016 and 2017 before skyrocketing at that point.
2.24 percent of children and teens were diagnosed with autism in 2014; by 2020, that number had increased to 3.49 percent, with the disorder being more common for boys than in girls (4.64 percent versus 1.56 percent, respectively). Families in lower economic brackets showed higher levels of diagnosed autism than in more affluent families, the study noted.