(KXNET) — One in 36 eight-year-old kids is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to an analysis published Wednesday in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

According to a news release, the new findings are higher than the 2018 estimate that found a regularity of one in 44.

This information came from 11 communities in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network and is not representative of the entire country. North Dakota is not one of the 11 monitoring network sites.

A second report on four-year-old kids in the same 11 communities highlights the effect of COVID-19, with disruptions in progress in early detection.

During the early months of the pandemic, four-year-olds were less likely to have an evaluation than eight-year-olds when they were the same age. This goes with the interruptions in childcare and healthcare services during COVID.

“Disruptions due to the pandemic in the timely evaluation of children and delays in connecting children to the services and support they need could have long-lasting effects,” said the Director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Karen Remly, M.D. “The data in this report can help communities better understand how the pandemic impacted early identification of autism in young children and anticipate future needs as these children get older.”

Shifting demographics among children identified with autism

ASD frequency among Asian, Black, and Hispanic children was 30% higher in 2020 than in 2018, and it was 14.6% higher in White kids in 2020 than in 2018. This means that for the first time, the percentage of eight-year-olds of Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and Black was higher than that of White kids.

This is the opposite of racial and ethnic differences previously observed in reports. These shifts could reflect improved screening, awareness, and access to services for those groups.

A higher percentage of Black kids with autism were identified with intellectual disability compared with White, Asian, or Pacific Islander kids. Those differences could be related to access ins services that diagnose and support those kids.

Overall, the commonness of autism with the ADDM sites was nearly four times higher for boys than girls, but in the first report, the increase was in girls, by just 1%.

Community differences in autism prevalence

The prevalence in the ADDM communities ranged anywhere from one in 43 kids to one in 22 kids. And these variations could be because of how communities are identifying kids with autism.

The variability across those sites offers an opportunity to compare local policies and models for delivering diagnostic and intervention services that could strengthen autism identification and give more support to people with autism.

Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network

The ADDM Network was established in 2000 and is the only network to track the number and characteristics of children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

The network gives estimates from 11 communities, those communities are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Tools for parents, healthcare providers, early childhood educators, and caregivers

CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program offers resources in English, Spanish, and other languages to watch kids’ development starting at two months old for free.

CDC’s Milestone Tracker app helps parents and caregivers track development and share information with their healthcare providers.

For more information, you can visit CDC’s website. You can find both reports below.