The prevalence of autism continues to increase across the United States, regardless of socioeconomic class, according to a new study1. Overall, black and Hispanic children are less likely than their white peers to have an autism diagnosis.
The findings highlight persistent racial disparities in autism prevalence: White children are about 19 percent more likely than black children and 65 percent more likely than Hispanic children to be diagnosed with autism.
Autism prevalence in the U.S. has more than doubled since 2002. Researchers have looked to changes in the condition’s diagnostic definition and greater awareness among parents as possible explanations for this rise.
They have also assumed that access to good schools and medical care would explain much of why white children and those of high socioeconomic status are more likely than black and Hispanic children and those of low socioeconomic status to be diagnosed with autism.
The new study upended many of these assumptions.
The findings suggest that socioeconomic status doesn’t fully explain the differences in prevalence across race and ethnicity.