From Abracadabra to Zombies
is a commentary on
mass media treatment of issues concerning science, the
paranormal, and the supernatural.
Skeptimedia replaces Mass Media Funk and Mass Media Bunk. Those blogs are now archived.
Autism rates are up or down
19 Dec 2009. According to the New York Times, autism rates are up. In a story dated 18 Dec 2009 by Benedict Carey, we're told:
Nearly 1 in 100 American 8-year-olds struggle with autism, Asperger’s syndrome or a related developmental problem, according to a study that health officials released on Friday. The estimate is the highest to date of so-called autism spectrum disorders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks health trends.
The headline for the story is "Study Increases Prevalence of Autism." No study, of course, ever increased any disease. Were this story and its headline rushed into print without due attention to detail?
According to the CDC site on autism spectrum disorders:
ASDs are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. CDC estimates that an average of 1 in 110 children in the U.S have an ASD.
About 1 in 110 children have autism [ASD, actually], according to the government's latest estimate released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It's a small change from a 1 in 100 preliminary estimate that CDC officials made in October from the same study. CDC officials said the latest number comes from a more complete analysis of reports from 11 states.
My guess is that the discrepancy is due to Carey's reviewing a study published in 2006 (linked to from his article) and the revised statistic of 1 in 110 being from a new analysis of the same data. Maybe the headline of NYT article should have read: Study decreases prevalence of autism.
* AmeriCares *