HealthDay News — Use of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) criteria is likely to lower prevalence estimates for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), researchers suggest.

Using DSM-5 criteria, the prevalence of ASD would be 10.0 per 1,000 children in 2008, compared with the reported prevalence of 11.3 based on DSM-IV-TR criteria, Matthew J. Maenner, PhD, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and colleagues reported in JAMA Psychiatry.

They conducted a cross-sectional study of population-based ASD surveillance based on clinician review of coded behaviors documented in children’s medical and educational evaluations.

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The study included 644,883 children aged 8 years, living in 14 geographically defined areas in the United States who participated in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network in 2006 or 2008. A total of 6,577 met surveillance ASD case status based on the DSM-IV-TR.

Overall, 81.2% of those classified by the ADDM Network as having ASD according to the DSM-IV-TR criteria met the ASD DSM-5 criteria, the researchers found.

The percentage was similar for boys and girls, and was significantly higher for those with (86.6%) versus those without (72.5%) intellectual disability (P<0.001). Three hundred four children met DSM-5 criteria for ASD but not current ADDM Network ASD case status.

“Autism spectrum disorder prevalence estimates will likely be lower under DSM-5 than under DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria, although this effect could be tempered by future adaptation of diagnostic practices and documentation of behaviors to fit the new criteria,” the researchers concluded.


  1. Maenner M et al. JAMA Psychiatry. 2014; doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.3893.