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Autism Diagnoses Still More Likely in Richer Neighborhoods
Date:4/6/2011

WEDNESDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- Poor children with autism are less likely than richer kids to have the condition diagnosed, but this disparity has decreased in recent years, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed data on children in California and found that the average age of autism diagnosis fell from 5.9 years among children born in 1992 to 3.8 years for those born in 2000.

Of the 4,906,926 children born in California between 1992 and 2000, they found that 18,731 (0.38 percent) were diagnosed with autism. The prevalence of autism in the state increased from 29 per 10,000 children in 1992 to 49 per 10,000 children in 2000.

The study appears in the April issue of the American Sociological Review.

"At the height of rising prevalence, which involved children born between 1992 and 1995, kids whose parents had fewer economic resources simply weren't diagnosed as often as wealthier children -- wealthier kids were 20 to 40 percent more likely than poorer children to be diagnosed," study co-author Marissa D. King, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Yale University's School of Management, said in a journal news release.

"Among children born in 2000, however, parental wealth alone had no effect on the likelihood that a child would be diagnosed," she added.

"As knowledge has spread about autism, information is now more evenly distributed across different kinds of communities," co-author Peter S. Bearman, a professor of social sciences at Columbia University and director of the university's Center for the Social Sciences, explained in the release. "It is also easier to find someone who can diagnose autism, so we no longer see these huge differences in rates of diagnosis. However, it appears that poor kids living in poor neighborhoods still are not being diagnosed."

The researchers found that between 1992 and 2000, a child in a poor family who lived in a more affluen
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