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UCI Health expert explains dramatic rise in childhood autism cases

Black and Hispanic children now are being diagnosed more frequently

April 04, 2023
uci health physician peter chung, in front of a white background wearing blue shirt and yellow tie, is the medical director of the center for autism and neurodevelopmental disorders

Dr. Peter Chung is the medical director of the UCI Health Center
for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders. (Credit: UCI Health
Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders)

IN THE NEWS: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last month that childhood diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder have nearly tripled since it began tracking rates in 2000. For the first time, more Black and Hispanic children are also being diagnosed than white children.

Healthline logoUCI Health autism expert Dr. Peter J. Chung spoke to Healthline about factors that could explain the increase, particularly among communities of color:

“It’s possible that these efforts in increasing screening and access to referrals has resulted in more non-white children getting evaluated.”

Chung is the medical director of the UCI Health Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders and an assistant professor in the UCI School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics. His clinical and research interests include medical education, quality improvement and deaf culture.

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