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University of Utah Health Awarded CDC Funding To Expand Knowledge About Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

The University of Utah's Department of Psychiatry was awarded a $2 million, four-year grant from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to enhance the capacity of the Utah Registry of Autism and Developmental Disabilities (URADD). CDC has launched a new phase of funding for the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, the only collaborative network to monitor the number and characteristics of children with autism spectrum disorderand other developmental disabilities in multiple communities throughout the United States.

Over the next four years, CDC will invest more than $16 million to enhance tracking at nine sites previously included in the ADDM Network, and to launch one new site. All ten sites will track ASD among 4-year-old and 8-year-old children. Three sites, including the University of Utah, will complete a follow-up of 16-year-old adolescents who were included in the ADDM Network in surveillance years 2010 and 2012, when they were 8 years old.

Since 2000, the ADDM Network has conducted ASD surveillance among 8-year-old children; a supplemental surveillance program among 4-year-old children in select sites including the University of Utah was added in 2010. ASD surveillance among 4-year-olds can inform public health strategies to improve early identification of ASD by providing timely information on evaluation and diagnostic patterns. Additionally, to allow for comparisons of ASD prevalence and characteristics at different ages among children in a single birth cohort, ASD surveillance among 4-year-olds can be linked to subsequent ASD surveillance among 8-year-olds.

Follow-up of 16-year-olds is a new activity for the ADDM Network, and will help inform public health strategies to improve identification of and services for children with ASD. Tracking 16-year-old adolescents with ASD can also provide valuable information on transition planning in special education services and the planned trajectory for post-high school years.

This is the fifth funding cycle announcement for the ADDM Network andURADD has participated in two previous funding cycles. In addition to tracking, sites will conduct analyses of the data to better understand increases over time in the number of children identified with ASD, and carry out education and outreach activities in their local communities.

"We are excited to re-join the CDC's ADDM network and participate in this important national autism monitoring program," says lead investigator Amanda V. Bakian, PhD, assistant professor and URADD director. "The Utah ADDM project builds upon our longhistory of studying Utah's autism prevalence starting in the mid-1980's. This work is possible because of the support we receive from Utah's autism community and stakeholders."