Autism Prevalence Rates

Updated 12/16/2021

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national rate of children identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder is 1 in 44 children. This statistic is based on their evaluation of health and educational records of 8-year-old children in 2016 in 11 states, including New Jersey. New Jersey now has the second highest rate of autism in the nation: 1 in 35 children, or 2.8% of 8-year-old children.

Prevalence in 8-year-old children

About the rates

Autism is on the rise nationwide.  Since 2000 and for the ninth consecutive time, the CDC found autism prevalence in 8-year-old children increased in the United States and were the highest to date nationally.

  • Nationally, the prevalence of autism is 1 in 44 (2.3%).
  • Here in New Jersey, it is 1 in 35 (2.8%)*

*New Jersey’s rate is a slight decrease from the previous rate reported of 1 in 32, but has been relatively stable for the last three reports.  

About the CDC study

Since the study began more than 20 years ago, the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network has been reviewing records of 8 year olds in New Jersey and across the country and issuing biannual reports on their prevalence findings.  The 2021 prevalence report is from records reviewed in 2018.  Due to an improvement in methods, the latest report was able to be issued in December of 2021, earlier than its usual spring release every two years.

In 2014, some of the states, including New Jersey, began studying 4-year-old children. The findings on 4 year olds offer a snapshot at an earlier point in time and, therefore, provide a means to monitor progress toward key initiatives such as ages of screening, evaluation, and diagnosis. The rates for 4-year-old children are currently 1 in 59 nationally and 1 in 51 in New Jersey.

Key take-away messages

Source:  CDC 2021 Community Report

In its analysis, the CDC offers the following observations.

  • Higher rates: The 2018 ADDM ASD prevalence estimates were higher than 2016 estimates among 8-year-old children.
  • 8 year olds: The ASD prevalence estimates among 8-year-old children ranged from 1.7% (Missouri) to 3.9% (California); New Jersey had the second highest prevalence estimate (2.8%) suggesting differences in ASD diagnosis across the ADDM Network sites.
  • 4 year olds: The ASD prevalence estimates among 4-year-old children ranged from 0.9% (Utah) to 4.2% (California), suggesting differences in ASD diagnosis across ADDM Network sites.
  • Racial gaps: Across ADDM sites, ASD rates were similar for Black, White, and Hispanic 8-year-old children; however, more Black children identified with ASD also had intellectual disability (refer to the MMWR for more details).

Dive deeper into the CDC’s data

Community Reports:  Easy to understand summaries of the study and its data

2021 Community Report (Full)
A Snapshot of Autism Spectrum Disorder in New Jersey

Scientific Report:  For the full peer-reviewed report and data

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) (December 3,2021)

Additional Analysis

In January 2023, a Rutgers study explored prevalence data over time, specifically looking at autism spectrum disorder with and without Intellectual Disability (ID) and delays in diagnosis among certain groups.  See coverage of their study.