Thursday, March 29, 2012

Autism Rates Up Again

Just a few days before Autism Awareness Month, the CDC has released the new numbers; autism now affects 1 in 88 children. According to the CDC, “This marks a 23% increase since our last report in 2009. And a 78% increase since our first report in 2007.” 

The CDC also found that Autism Spectrum Disorders are almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 54) than among girls (1 in 252).

Wow. Just wow. If 1 in 88 children succumbed to cancer or were abducted by strangers, we would declare a national emergency—as we should. But rising autism numbers don’t seem to provoke that same sort of alarm. 

I don’t want to minimize other childhood tragedies, but I want autism recognized as one, and more to the point, more dollars spent on research. As a comparison (from Autism Speaks):

Did you know ...
  • Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys
  • Autism prevalence figures are growing
  • More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined
  • Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
  • Autism costs the nation $126 billion per year
  • Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases
  • Boys are four times more likely than girls to have autism
  • There is no medical detection or cure for autism
Prevalence vs. Private Funding
  • Leukemia: Affects 1 in 1,200 / Funding: $277 million
  • Muscular Dystrophy: Affects 1 in 100,000 / Funding: $162 million
  • Pediatric AIDS: Affects 1 in 300 / Funding: $394 million
  • Juvenile Diabetes: Affects 1 in 500 / Funding: $156 million
  • Autism: Affects 1 in 88 / Funding: $79 million
National Institutes of Health Funds Allocation
  • Total 2011 NIH budget: $30.5 billion
  • Of this, only $169 million goes directly to autism research. This represents 0.6% of total NIH funding.
Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t know anyone with autism. It doesn’t affect me.” It does. Autism is increasing at an alarming rate, and without treatment—which is unaffordable by most—these children will become society’s burden. More and more tax dollars will go to their support. We need to find the cause NOW.

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