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April 1, 2020 | Number of The Day
Consecutive years New Jersey autism rate has risen

In a federal report published last week, Rutgers researchers say autism continues to be far more common in 8-year-old children in New Jersey than elsewhere in the United States. The Garden State’s prevalence rate is one in 32, compared with one in 54 nationwide, according to an analysis of 2016 data in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Surveillance Summary.

“It is surprising that the prevalence of a significant disorder like autism has risen so consistently over a relatively brief period,” said Walter Zahorodny, an associate professor of pediatrics at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, who directed the New Jersey autism-monitoring site. “Changes in awareness and shifts in how children are identified or diagnosed are relevant, but they only take you so far in accounting for an increase of this magnitude,” he added.

Boys were more than four times more likely to be identified with autism than girls, but girls identified with autism were more likely to have intellectual disabilities than boys (39% versus 32%). Five percent of 8-year-old boys (1 in 20) in New Jersey were identified with autism.