KARE 11 News Reports ICI Data on Higher Autism Rates in Twin Cities Children

Sat Apr 28 2018
Logo of KARE 11 television.

KARE 11 television — the NBC affiliate in the Twin Cities — has reported on a multi-state study in which ICI participated that revealed that childhood autism rates in the Twin Cities are higher than the national average. Conducted by the Institute's Minnesota-Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (MN-ADDM), the study identified 1 in 42 children (2.4 percent) as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Minnesota. This is higher than the autism prevalence rate of 1 in 59 (1.7 percent) detected among children in 11 communities around the country where prevalence was tracked by the Autism and Developmental Disability Monitoring Network  (ADDM). Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the ADDM Network is a nationwide network of childhood autism studies and this is the first time Minnesota has been involved with it.

Focused on children who were 8 years old, MN-ADDM relied on 2014 data from the health and special education records of 9,767 children in Hennepin and Ramsey counties. No differences were found in the percentage of white, black, and Hispanic individuals identified with autism. The ICI researchers also included Hmong and Somali children in the study, but determined the sample size was too small to provide meaningful data. Amy Hewitt, the principal investigator for the Minnesota portion of the study, cautioned that the state’s numbers might skew higher because the sample was drawn only in urban areas where children with autism are more likely to be identified. She emphasized that children and families living with autism should get the services and support they need. Anab Gulaid, who worked with Hewitt and other ICI staff on the study, agreed, saying that early diagnosis and treatment of autism leads to more positive outcomes.