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Rate of autism in US reduced in the past three years

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Rate of autism in US reduced in the past three yearsRate of autism in US reduced in the past three years
FILE - Colleen Jankovich works with her 11-year-old autistic son, Matthew, in Omaha, Nebraska, May 23, 2014. VOA
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Miami, Jan 2, 2018: After more than a decade of steady increase in the rate of children diagnosed with autism in the United States, the rate has plateaued in the past three years, researchers said Tuesday.

The findings were based on a nationwide study in which more than 30,000 parents reported whether their children had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

“The estimated ASD prevalence was 2.41 percent among US children and adolescents in 2014-2016, with no statistically significant increase over the three years,” said the research letter by experts at the University of Iowa, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The first observation of a plateau was made by a separate group in 2012, when the rate flattened out to 1.46 percent, according to the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.

Federal health authorities say that means about one in 68 children in the United States have the neurodevelopmental disability, whose causes remain poorly understood.

The ADDM had documented a “continuous increase from 0.67 percent in 2000 to 1.47 percent in 2010.”

The 2.4 percent rate described in the JAMA report translates to one in 47 children, but researchers cautioned that the discrepancy may be explained by “differences in study design and participant characteristics.”

The JAMA report, based on the annual National Health Interview Survey, did not delve into “underlying causes for the findings and cannot make conclusions about their medical significance.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also noted a plateau in the autism rate in 2016, but said it was “too soon to know whether ASD prevalence in the United States might be starting to stabilize.” (VOA)

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Study: iPhone App Effective for Screening Toddlers With Autism

An app-based approach can reach into underserved areas better and make it much easier to track an individual child's changes over time

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Study: iPhone App Effective for Screening Toddlers With Autism
Study: iPhone App Effective for Screening Toddlers With Autism. Pixabay

An iPhone app has shown to be effective and easy to use for screening young children with signs of autism, paving the way to broader, easier access to screening other neurodevelopmental disorders, according to researchers.

The “Autism & Beyond” app first administers caregiver consent forms and survey questions and then uses the phone’s “selfie” camera to collect videos of young children’s reactions while they watch movies designed to elicit autism risk behaviours, such as patterns of emotion and attention, on the device’s screen.

The videos of the child’s reactions are sent to the study’s servers, where automatic behavioural coding software tracks the movement of video landmarks on the child’s face and quantifies the child’s emotions and attention.

For example, in response to a short movie of bubbles floating across the screen, the video coding algorithm looks for movements of the face that would indicate joy.

An app-based approach can reach into underserved areas better and make it much easier to track an individual child’s changes over time, said Guillermo Sapiro, professor at Duke University in North Carolina.

Representational image.
Representational image. (IANS)

The app, described in journal npj Digital Medicine, can analyse emotional reactions in children as young as 18 months and without having to see a specialist in person, allowing for earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Current screening for autism in young children is done in clinical settings, rather than the child’s natural environment, and highly trained people are needed to both administer the test and analyse the results.

But, “this technology has the potential to transform how we screen and monitor children’s development”, Sapiro said.

Also Read: Apple Approves Telegram App Update

For the study, 1,756 families with children aged from one to six years participated.

Parents completed 5,618 surveys and uploaded 4,441 videos.

Usable data were collected on 88 per cent of the uploaded videos, demonstrating for the first time the feasibility of this type of tool for observing and coding behaviour in natural environments. (IANS)

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