The percentage of 4-year-olds in New Jersey with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) increased 44 percent between 2010 and 2014, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This goes against previous CDC data that suggested the rates were leveling off.
“It is now clear that what we saw in 2016 was just a pause along the way. It remains to be seen at what point ASD rates will plateau,” said Dr. Walter Zahorodny, PhD, an associate professor of pediatrics at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School who directed the New Jersey portion of the study, in a press release.
In 2014, 2.8 percent of New Jersey children aged 4 years old were identified as having ASD. This is an increase over the previous two reports — in 2010 and 2012.
Only two other sites — Arizona and Missouri — had consistent data for all three years. The rates of ASD at those sites remained steady during this time.
Dr. Diana Robins, PhD, interim director and professor at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, said the “steady increase” seen in New Jersey for 4-year-olds is similar to that seen for 8-year-olds in other CDC data.
However, “More concerning than the increase in New Jersey numbers per se are the fairly striking differences across sites measuring 4-year-old prevalence,” said Robins, “above and beyond what can be explained by the types of records available.”
In 2014, the ASD rates ranged from less than 1 percent in Missouri to a high of 2.8 percent in New Jersey. The average was 1.7 percent.