A new survey of parents conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that 1 in 50 US schoolchildren have autism, ABC News reported.
About 1 million children – that’s two percent of US schoolchildren – have been diagnosed with some sort of autism, the researchers discovered, according to NBC News.
“Our findings suggest that the increase in prevalence may be due to increased recognition of autism spectrum disorders in recent years, especially when the symptoms were mild,” Stephen Blumberg of the National Center for Health Statistics, which published the report, told NBC News.
According to ABC News:
There are no blood or biologic tests for autism, so diagnosis is not an exact science.
The number is larger than previous government estimates of the prevalence of autism, a spectrum of conditions that can range from mild social awkwardness to symptoms that prevent learning and may necessitate medication, NBC News reported.
Last year, a government estimate based on medical and school records found that 1 in 88 US children have autism, ABC News reported.
The new, larger figure sounds reasonable to Michael Rosanoff of Autism Speaks, an advocacy group. "We've been underestimating" how common autism is, he told ABC News.
“We don’t want (parents) to be frightened by the numbers,” the CDC's Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp told NBC News. “We want them to recognize that there are things they can do that make a difference in their child’s life.”