Autism Epidemic

Investigating the Rise in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Diagnoses

Executive Summary

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnoses have risen significantly in recent decades. While increased awareness is a factor, the magnitude of the increase suggests potential underlying environmental or biological contributors. This report calls for a comprehensive investigation to understand the factors driving this trend.

Key Points:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of autism among U.S. children has risen significantly in recent years. While 6.7 in 1,000 children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 2000, that number had risen to 27.6 in 1,000 children by 2020. This means that currently 1 in 36 children in the U.S. get diagnosed with ASD, up from 1 in 150 children 20 years ago.

  • While improved awareness likely plays a role, the scale of the increase suggests other contributing factors.

  • Understanding the causes of ASD is critical for developing effective prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies.

Witness Testimony


  • Establish a well-funded, multi-disciplinary research program to investigate potential environmental and biological contributors to ASD.

  • Areas of focus should include:

    • Genetic and epigenetic factors

    • Environmental exposures during pregnancy and early childhood

    • Potential interactions between genetics and environment

  • The research program should involve collaboration between public health agencies, academic institutions, and private organizations.

  • Increase public awareness about the importance of early diagnosis and intervention for ASD.

Benefits of Investigation:

  • A clearer understanding of the causes of ASD could lead to:

    • Development of preventative measures

    • Improved early detection and diagnosis

    • More targeted and effective interventions and treatments

    • Enhanced support services for individuals with ASD and their families


Investigating the rise in ASD diagnoses is a public health imperative. By understanding the causes of ASD, we can improve the lives of millions of individuals and families affected by this condition.


  • The term "epidemic" can be emotionally charged and is not universally used by medical professionals. This summary uses "rise" to be more factual.

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