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Am J Public Health. 2017 Nov;107(11):1818-1826. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.304032. Epub 2017 Sep 21.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Among US Children (2002-2010): Socioeconomic, Racial, and Ethnic Disparities.

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Maureen S. Durkin is with the Department of Population Health Sciences of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Matthew J. Maenner, Jon Baio, Deborah Christensen, Laura A. Schieve, Kim Van Naarden Braun, and Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp are with the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Julie Daniels is with the Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill. Robert Fitzgerald is with the Department of Psychiatry, Washington University, St Louis, MO. Pamela Imm is with the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Li-Ching Lee is with the Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD. Martha S. Wingate is with the Department of Health Care Organization and Policy, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.



To describe the association between indicators of socioeconomic status (SES) and the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States during the period 2002 to 2010, when overall ASD prevalence among children more than doubled, and to determine whether SES disparities account for ongoing racial and ethnic disparities in ASD prevalence.


We computed ASD prevalence and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) from population-based surveillance, census, and survey data. We defined SES categories by using area-level education, income, and poverty indicators. We ascertained ASD in 13 396 of 1 308 641 8-year-old children under surveillance.


The prevalence of ASD increased with increasing SES during each surveillance year among White, Black, and Hispanic children. The prevalence difference between high- and low-SES groups was relatively constant over time (3.9/1000 [95% CI = 3.3, 4.5] in 2002 and 4.1/1000 [95% CI = 3.6, 4.6] in the period 2006-2010). Significant racial/ethnic differences in ASD prevalence remained after stratification by SES.


A positive SES gradient in ASD prevalence according to US surveillance data prevailed between 2002 and 2010, and racial and ethnic disparities in prevalence persisted during this time among low-SES children.

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