1 in 50 US kids could have autism

March 21, 2013 6:01:57 AM PDT
About one in 50 U.S. school-age kids could have autism, according to a new government study.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the new study on Wednesday.

Previous studies in 2007 estimated that every one in 87 U.S. school-age kids had some form of autism. Researchers say that the rise can be attributed to better testing methods and higher awareness of mild cases.

Autism symptoms can be seen in kids as young as 18 months old, but doctors often can’t tell until school-age. Pediatricians are still urged to screen kids for developmental delays on nearly all children by age 2.

Individuals with autism can be anywhere in the spectrum between high-functioning and severely affected by speech and intellectual disabilities. Autism encompasses a range of disorders, including Asberger Syndrome.

About 80 to 90% of the risk for developing autism is genetic, though scientists still aren’t able to trace cases to a known inherited cause.