The U.S. government increased its autism estimate on Thursday to 1 in 68 children, a 30 per cent jump from the last estimate of 1 in 88 children.Those numbers include children with autism or a related disorder, and they correspond with data in the most recent Canadian study.
A report from the National Epidemiologic Database for the Study of Autism in Canada released in 2012 found increases in autism diagnoses in Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and southeastern Ontario. The increases ranged from 39 to 204 per cent, depending on the region and age group.
The latest calculation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control means autism is more than twice as common as officials said it was just seven years go.
The CDC report estimates that 1.2 million children or teens are affected by the disorder.
Much of the increase is believed to be due to increased awareness of the disorders, and suggests doctors are diagnosing autism more frequently, especially in children with milder problems.
Because there are no blood or neurological tests for autism, doctors base their diagnosis on a child’s behaviour. Four of the main criteria are:
- trouble communicating
- problems with social interaction
- repetitive behaviours
- unusual, or severely limited interests