Researchers from the University of California, Davis Health System calculated costs for the current year and projected where they'll be in 10 years from now if preventive treatments are not identified and made widely available to cure autism.
It was estimated that for medical, non-medical, and productivity losses associated with the disorder, it will cost $268 billion for 2015 and $461 billion for 2025. But the projections may increase to $1 trillion in the next decade if prevalence of autism continues to increase at current rates.
"The current costs of ASD are more than double the combined costs of stroke and hypertension and on a par with the costs of diabetes. There should be at least as much public, research and government attention to finding the causes and best treatments for ASD as there is for these other major diseases," said Paul Leigh, professor of public health sciences and researcher with the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research at UC Davis.
According to the CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network currently about 1 in 68 children in the U.S. live with ASD. Symptoms includes difficulties in social-interaction, communication challenges and repetitive behaviors.
Leigh and his team determined their estimates based on the data about medical services, residential care, special education, in-home care, transportation, employment support and lost productivity. They collected data from a variety of sources, including research literature, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
People with autism change throughout their lives therefore even age was taken into account along with intellectual disabilities and population changes for evaluation. Based on this the researchers came up with an estimated range of costs in these years: $162 billion to $367 billion for 2015, and $276 billion to $1 trillion for 2025.
The funds given for diabetes research by National Institutes of Health is five times more than the level of research on ASD. Therefore to reduce cost, research investment for ASD also should be equal to that of diabetes concluded the researchers.