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Bottom Line: National survey data for 43,000 U.S. children suggests an estimated 2.8 percent have ever been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 2.5 percent currently have ASD. Among 1,115 children with current ASD, almost 30 percent aren’t treated with behavioral therapies or medication. ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder marked by social impairments, communication difficulties, repetitive behaviors and restricted interests. Symptoms of ASD are often treated with behavioral therapies and medications. Among children with ASD who were treated, almost 64 percent received behavioral treatment and 27 percent received medication. In the study, which used data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, the frequency of ASD among children varied by state. The study has limitations, including that physician diagnoses of ASD were self-reported by parents. Understanding why some children with ASD don’t receive treatment is important.
Authors: Wei Bao, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and coauthors
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