As part of CDC report, U of M researchers find that 1 in 34 children were identified with autism in the Twin Cities metro area
MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (3/23/2023) — A report by the Minnesota-Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (MN-ADDM) at the University of Minnesota identified 1 in 34 (3.0%) 8-year-old children as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Minnesota. The report relied on 2020 data from 16,150 children in parts of Anoka, Hennepin, and Ramsey counties.
Minnesota is part of an 11-state network funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC found that, on average, 1 in 36 (2.8%) children were identified as having ASD in communities where prevalence was tracked by the ADDM Network in 2020, an increase from 1 in 44 in 2018. This estimate is based on 8-year-old children living in parts of 11 states and does not represent the entire population of children in the United States.
“Overall, these latest autism prevalence numbers tell us that we are identifying more children with autism in our communities than in previous years,” said Dr. Jennifer Hall-Lande, co-principal investigator for the Minnesota project. “It is important to remember that behind these numbers are real children and families. In the end, what matters is that children with autism and their families get the support and services they need to live healthy and successful lives.”
The latest data provides valuable information on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on autism identification. Both nationally and within Minnesota there was a stark drop-off in evaluations and identifications at the onset of the pandemic in 2020. “These data also provide a first-hand look at the impact of the pandemic on autism evaluations and early identification. During the pandemic, we saw a significant reduction in autism evaluation and early autism identification, and these delays in early identification can have a significant impact on a child’s future development," said Hall-Lande
This project does not examine what causes ASD. The focus is on providing data and training that helps policymakers, educators, communities, providers, families, and individuals make informed decisions and support children with autism and their families.
Minnesota Autism and Developmental Disability Monitoring also found that:
- ASD occurs among all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Among 8-year-olds in Minnesota, ASD prevalence for Hispanic children was 1.3 times higher than that of White children, 1.3 times higher than prevalence for Black children, and 1.7 times higher than prevalence for Asian/Pacific Islander children.
- The median age of first ASD diagnosis by a community provider in Minnesota was 4 years, 11 months. Minnesota had the latest median age of ASD diagnosis in the ADDM Network.
- Consistent with previous ADDM Network estimates, 8-year-old boys were about four times more likely to be identified with ASD than girls of the same age.
- Of the Minnesota 8-year-old children with ASD who had IQ tests in their records, 32% had an intellectual disability. This is consistent with national data.
- The pandemic onset in March 2020 coincided with a stark drop-off in evaluations and autism identifications that continued without recovery through the end of 2020 in Minnesota.
“Children with autism and intellectual disability often have high support needs, and families often report difficulties accessing services and community social opportunities, particularly as their children reach adolescence and adulthood,” said Dr. Amy Esler, co-principal investigator for the Minnesota project. “MN-ADDM data can help Minnesota to invest in resources to provide services and supports throughout the lifespan.” The MN-ADDM Network, which is part of the Institute on Community Integration in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, collaborates with a wide variety of community ASD organizations and several Minnesota state organizations, including the Minnesota Departments of Education, Human Services, and Health.
For more information on the MN-ADDM Network, visit addm.umn.edu. To access the CDC’s nationwide ADDM Network studies, visit cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/addm-community-report/index.html .
A webinar presenting findings from the Minnesota report can be viewed at z.umn.edu/mnaddm2020 .