On December 18, 2009, the CDC released a new report estimating that autism affects 1 in 110 children in the U.S. This is an increase from the previous estimation of 1 in 150. There is also an unequal prevalence between genders with autism affecting 1 in 70 males. These new findings have CDC administrators calling autism an "urgent public health concern".
While it is critical that autism be correctly diagnosed as early as possible (ideally by age 2), the average age of diagnosis is 53 months. Late diagnosis and inadequate treatment are likely reasons that the Harvard School of Public Health estimates a $35 billion price tag on caring for those with autism. The cost is more than monetary, with the disorder drastically changing the quality of life of a child and adult with autism.
Reports like this are helping awareness of the problem to be growing rapidly, efforts have stepped up in research, legislation, and support for these children.