Autism may be more common than anyone thought - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Autism may be more common than anyone thought



Eau Claire (WQOW)- One in 50 school children in America has some form of autism.  That is much higher than the previous estimate, 1 in 88. The new statistic comes from a national phone survey of more than 95,000 parents.

There are no blood or biologic tests for autism, so diagnosis is not an exact science. It's identified by making judgments about a child's behavior. Health experts say the new number doesn't necessarily mean autism is occurring more often. But it does suggest that doctors are diagnosing autism more frequently.

"I think this study tells us two things," says Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor for ABC News. "One is that milder forms of autism are being recognized. When you look at the increase and whether the children were severely, moderately or mildly affected most were in the mild area of the autism spectrum. But it also says that autism itself is on the rise. I don't think we can put this all on better recognition, better identification of children with autism. Something else is going on too."

The new numbers released Wednesday by the CDC would mean at least 1 million children have autism.

The earlier government estimate of 1 in 88 comes from a study that some consider more precise. It looks at medical and school records instead of relying on parents.


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