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Pediatrics. 2009 Nov;124(5):1395-403. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-1522. Epub 2009 Oct 5.

Prevalence of parent-reported diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder among children in the US, 2007.

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  • 1Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, Maryland 20857, USA.



The reported increasing prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attendant health and family impact make monitoring of ASD prevalence a public health priority.


The prevalence of parent-reported diagnosis of ASD among US children aged 3 to 17 years was estimated from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health (sample size: 78037). A child was considered to have ASD if a parent/guardian reported that a doctor or other health care provider had ever said that the child had ASD and that the child currently had the condition. The point-prevalence for ASD was calculated for those children meeting both criteria. We examined sociodemographic factors associated with current ASD and with a past (but not current) ASD diagnosis. The health care experiences for children in both ASD groups were explored.


The weighted current ASD point-prevalence was 110 per 10,000. We estimate that 673,000 US children have ASD. Odds of having ASD were 4 times as large for boys than girls. Non-Hispanic (NH) black and multiracial children had lower odds of ASD than NH white children. Nearly 40% of those ever diagnosed with ASD did not currently have the condition; NH black children were more likely than NH white children to not have current ASD. Children in both ASD groups were less likely than children without ASD to receive care within a medical home.


The observed point-prevalence is higher than previous US estimates. More inclusive survey questions, increased population awareness, and improved screening and identification by providers may partly explain this finding.

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