NJ is leading state with diagnoses of autism in children

David Madden
April 26, 2018 - 7:45 pm

NEW JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — A national autism study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded New Jersey is leading the nation in the percentage of 8-year-olds diagnosed with the developmental disorder among a total 11 states examined. 

Three percent of the children in four North and Central New Jersey counties in 2014 had autism, the study reported, an almost 20 percent increase from the last survey conducted two years prior. 

"The reasons for this increase in prevalence of autism in New Jersey and across the United States are unknown, but may involve underlying changes in environmental risks or triggers as well as better awareness of autism," said Professor Walter Zahorodny from Rutgers Medical School, who was the lead New Jersey researcher.

On average of the 11 states surveyed, 1.7 percent represented children with autism. 

Sen. Robert Menendez, who organized a conference call to discuss the findings, pledged to fight for continued federal autism funding. The law that currently provides that funding is set to expire next year.

"It's not as if the challenges that posed by autism are going away," he said. "The new numbers we're discussing are extraordinary. These numbers have been our call to action and remind us that we cannot be complacent."