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Survey Finds One in 45 American Kids has an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Update Date: Nov 13, 2015 09:38 AM EST
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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is more common than experts previously believed.

The research team with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data that was collected from the annual National Health Interview Survey from 2011 to 2014. Based on the answers that parents provided in regards to their children, the researchers estimated that one in 45 American children has some form of the developmental disorder that affects social, communication and motor skills in 2014.

This new rate is significantly higher than the CDC's previous estimate of one in 68 American children. That rate was based on data taken from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. The information, which was last collected in 2010, included children's medical records.

Data from the most recent CDC study involved almost 12,000 parents with children between the ages of three and 17 in 2014. From 2011 to 2013, around 11,000 parents with children in the same age group were interviewed face-to-face. The team found that the autism rate for the time span of 2011 to 2013 was one in 80 children.

The researchers noted that in 2014, they changed up the questions, which could explain why more cases were seen that year than in 2011-2013.

"One in 45 is what we think is the most accurate parental report of autism to date," researcher Benjamin Zablotsky, an epidemiologist at the National Center for Health Statistics, said reported by TODAY. "I think within this report we found that the way that we ask the parents about autism spectrum disorder can have an impact on the way the parents respond to the question. We feel we are asking the question in a better way than before."

The researchers did not examine why the rate of ASD has been increasing. Some experts argued that increased awareness about the disorder could explain why more parents are willing to get their child checked out if they believe that he/she has the condition.

Robert Fitzgerald, an epidemiologist in psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, commented that another reason why the number ASD cases has increased could be due to the fact that stigma surrounding ASD has decreased, FOX News reported. Doctors could now be more willing to diagnose a child with ASD instead of concluding that the child has some form of "intellectual disability."

The research was published in the CDC's National Health Statistics Reports.

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