Objectives: The reported increasing prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attendant health and family impact make monitoring of ASD prevalence a public health priority.
Methods: The prevalence of parent-reported diagnosis of ASD among US children aged 3 to 17 years was estimated from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health (sample size: 78037). A child was considered to have ASD if a parent/guardian reported that a doctor or other health care provider had ever said that the child had ASD and that the child currently had the condition. The point-prevalence for ASD was calculated for those children meeting both criteria. We examined sociodemographic factors associated with current ASD and with a past (but not current) ASD diagnosis. The health care experiences for children in both ASD groups were explored.
Results: The weighted current ASD point-prevalence was 110 per 10,000. We estimate that 673,000 US children have ASD. Odds of having ASD were 4 times as large for boys than girls. Non-Hispanic (NH) black and multiracial children had lower odds of ASD than NH white children. Nearly 40% of those ever diagnosed with ASD did not currently have the condition; NH black children were more likely than NH white children to not have current ASD. Children in both ASD groups were less likely than children without ASD to receive care within a medical home.
Conclusions: The observed point-prevalence is higher than previous US estimates. More inclusive survey questions, increased population awareness, and improved screening and identification by providers may partly explain this finding.