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Smith, author of Combating Autism Reauthorization Act: “New autism data shows ‘Developmental Disability Pandemic’; Must mobilize to find cause, assist victims”Autism Prevalence Worsens: 1-in-88 Children in U.S., 1-in-49 in NJ

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Washington, Mar 29, 2012 | Jeff Sagnip (609-585-7878) | comments
New alarming data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows 1 in every 88 American children and 1 in every 49 New Jersey children has a form of autism.

    “The national numbers, including and especially in my home state of New Jersey, are shocking,” said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), author of Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, Public Law 112-32.  “Each one of these statistics represents real children and real families who struggle and need our help and assistance.”

The study also found a continuing higher prevalence of ASDs in boys than girls (1-in-252 girls and 1-in-54 boys). However, in New Jersey, of the 1 in 49 children with a form of autism, Smith noted a staggering 1 in 29 boys with the disability.

    “We as a nation must do much more, especially to determine causation and ensure early diagnosis, so interventional care can begin as early as possible. The stakes are so high: the quality of life of so many children is at risk. We need research, new treatments and a path to a cure.” said Smith, who also authored the provision in Title I of the Children’s Health Act (PL 106-310) which created the Centers of Excellence in Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disabilities Epidemiology that carried out this study. 

    “Prevention, treatment and ultimately a cure for this developmental disability must be our highest priority.  We need to bring a ‘Manhattan Project’ type focus to this essential life saving work.  Delay is not an option,” Smith said.

    Smith’s landmark legislation enacted in 2000—the Autism Statistics, Surveillance, Research and Epidemiology Act (Title I, P.L. 106-310) created the first comprehensive federal program to combat autism. In 2011, another piece of legislation he authored The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act(CARA)”— (now Public Law 112-32) was enacted and will provide $693 million over the next three years to continue the program. 

    “The new CDC data shows a sharp increase from the appalling 2006 data that documented 1-in-110 children with an autism spectrum disorders (ASDs)—a 23% increase,” Smith said.

    This morning, Smith , the Co-Chairman of the Congressional Coalition on Autism Research and Education (C.A.R.E.), spoke to Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC, about the new data. The information was set to be released at a CDC briefing for Congress Thursday afternoon. Click here to read the study.

    The CDC study, entitled Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, provides autism prevalence estimates from 14 states, including New Jersey. It was published today in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

    Smith’s law, CARA, signed September 30, 2011 authorized for each of the next three fiscal years: $22 million for the Developmental Disabilities Surveillance and Research Program; $48 million for Autism Education, Early Detection, and Intervention, and; $161 million for hundreds of Research Grants at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.

    In May 2011, Smith chaired a hearing on U.S. and global autism. He also has written two other bills in the current 112th Congress, H.R. 2006, “The National Autism Spectrum Disorders Initiative Act,” and H.R. 2007, "The Autism Spectrum Disorders Services Act.” H.R. 2006 designates the Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services Department as head of the national autism effort, and authorizes the Secretary to approve a strategic plan developed by the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), in consultation with the National Institute for Health. H.R. 2007 broadens the existing IACC by expanding public representation and by making services to individuals with autism a major focus. H.R 2007 establishes a planning and demonstration grant program for services to children, transitioning youth, adults, and individuals of any age who may be at risk of injury, authorizes grants for protection and advocacy systems, and creates a national training initiative to better equip teachers and autism services providers. 
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