MONDAY, July 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in U.S. children and adolescents has increased to an estimated 3.14 percent in 2019 and 2020, according to a research letter published online July 5 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Qian Li, from the School of Public Health at Guangdong Pharmaceutical University in Guangzhou, China, and colleagues used data from the 2019 and 2020 National Health Interview Survey to estimate ASD prevalence among U.S. children and adolescents.

The researchers found that the prevalence of ASD was 2.79 percent in 2019, 3.49 percent in 2020, and 3.14 percent overall. There was a significant difference in prevalence between sexes (4.64 percent in boys versus 1.56 percent in girls) and according to family income-to-poverty ratio (<1.00 (reference): 4.89 percent; 1.00 to 1.99: 2.71 percent; 2.00 to 3.99: 3.20 percent; and ≥4.00: 2.45 percent).

“ASD is a complicated neurodevelopmental disability with an increasing prevalence worldwide and considerable implications for individuals and their families,” the authors write. “Given that ASD is a lifelong disease in most children, future research needs to focus on understanding risk factors for and causes of ASD.”

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