New Study Says 1 in 45 Children in the U.S. Has Autism

The National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released the results of a new parent survey on Friday, which show that 1 in 45 children in the country have autism. The previous estimate from the 2010 survey showed that 1 in 68 children in the U.S. has autism.

The new number is from a 2014 survey of parents of 13,000 children, who were asked if their child was ever diagnosed with autism or a related disorder. In this survey, the CDC changed the way the questions were asked, CBS News reported, which many experts believe could be the reason for the increase.

Benjamin Zablotsky, an epidemiologist who helped lead the study, told that earlier questionnaires submitted to parents might have been confusing, hence the jump over the last few years. “We feel we are asking the question in a better way than before,” Zablotsky added. “One in 45 is what we think is the most accurate parental report of autism to date.”

For the 2011-2013 surveys, parents were first asked if their child had an intellectual disability, then if their child had any developmental delay and finally whether their child had received a diagnosis like autism, Down syndrome, sickle cell anemia, etc. The 2014 survey swapped the order of the last two questions and eliminated the other conditions, focusing solely on autism, Forbes reported.

The study showing one in 45 children have autism is just one of three estimates on autism released by the CDC on Friday. In a different survey among 47,000 children, it’s estimated still that 1 in 68 children is on the autism spectrum.

“Regardless of prevalence rates, we need to focus on ensuring all individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have access to much needed services and supports, because behind every number is someone who needs help today,” said Scott Badesch, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America.

Lead image via ThinkStock

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