Time trends in U.S. autism prevalence from three ongoing datasets [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, and California Department of Developmental Services (CDDS)] are calculated using two different methods: (1) constant-age tracking of 8 year-olds and (2) age-resolved snapshots. The data are consistent across methods in showing a strong upward trend over time. The prevalence of autism in the CDDS dataset, the longest of the three data records, increased from 0.001% in the cohort born in 1931 to 1.2% among 5 year-olds born in 2012. This increase began around ~ 1940 at a rate that has gradually accelerated over time, including notable change points around birth years 1980, 1990 and, most recently, 2007.
Keywords: ADDM; ASD prevalence; Autism spectrum disorder; Autistic disorder; CDDS; IDEA; Time trends.