Autism prevalence in New Jersey almost doubled in a decade

    A new report finds that Autism rates in New Jersey have increased significantly over the past 10 years. New Jersey had the highest reported rates in a survey of 11 states.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has monitored autism rates for the past 10 years, and just released its findings on the 2010 data. The picture that emerges in New Jersey is bleak — almost 2 percent of kids have an autism diagnosis.

    “When we started doing surveillance 10 years ago we had just identified a high level of autism prevalence at 1 percent. So now we’re seeing basically a hundred percent increase in a decade,” explained Rutgers University’s Walter Zahorodny, who led the study for New Jersey.

    He says that means one in 45 children in the state are diagnosed with autism. The rates among boys are much higher, with one in 28 being affected. The rate among girls was reported at one in 138.

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    Zaharodny added that tracking those numbers has important implications. “To understand whether the upward trend continues and whether it plateaus and when it plateaus. Based on that information, we can help policy makers and educators plan for the right services for these children,” he said.

    Zahorodny says New Jersey’s high rates are likely a result of better diagnosing and tracking of autism. He said according to birth certificates, most of the children diagnosed were born in the Garden State, and did not move to there after receiving a diagnosis because of services offered in New Jersey schools.

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