By Thomas Insel
Autism Awareness Month arrives this year with a package of new, important research findings. Below I describe a few of these. The field is moving so rapidly that, by the end of April, there will likely be yet a new crop of findings—so this is, at best, a progress report for the beginning of Autism Awareness Month.
Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new numbers on the prevalence of autism, based on the most recent results from their long running Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) network. Looking at administrative data on 8-year-olds from 11 sites across the country, ADDM reported a prevalence of autism of 1 in 68 children in 2010 (based on children born in 2002), up from 1 in 88 in 2008 (based on children born in 2000). There was considerable variation across the 11 sites: from 1 in 45 in New Jersey to 1 in 175 in Alabama. As in previous surveys, boys were almost 5 times more likely to have an autism label. The prevalence in boys was 1 in 42; in girls, 1 in 189.