A recent study, using research from Rutgers University, found that the rate of autism in New Jersey jumped 43% percent between the years 2010 and 2014. While the rise in autism rates in New Jersey is dramatic, it reflects a similar trend in the increase of autism rates across the country. Researchers went on to point out that the higher rates of autism in New Jersey may be attributed to the state’s robust network of clinical and educational services that help detect, report, and accurately record disorder rates.

Despite researchers ability to detect the increase of autism spectrum disorder in New Jersey and across the country, little is known about the causes precise genetic and environmental factors that cause the disorder. So far, research has not linked autism to a single leading cause. Experts believe there are many influences that increase risk of autism spectrum disorder, but more research is required to determine the non-genetic factors that heighten risk for autism. It is believed that a higher risk of autism in children is associated with premature birth, genetic mutation, and maternal illness during pregnancy.

Until more is known about the contributing factors that lead to autism, experts suggest that detection of the disorder is paramount. The one thing parents and health care practitioners can do is to have their children screened for autism early in their childhood. Experts suggest autism screening should start as early as 18 months and should be part of a child’s regular doctors visits. When autism is screened for and detected at an early age, children by and large respond better to treatment and can be enrolled in adapted services.