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Prevalence of autism is rising, according to study

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 12, 2009

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The 2007 National Survey of Children's Health found that about 1% of U.S. children age 3 to 17 have autism spectrum disorders. The 1-in-91 tally is higher than the 1-in-150 tally for 8-year-olds reported in 2002 by the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network.

Researchers, who gathered data from interviews with 78,000 parents, suggest that the increased prevalence might be partly explained by methodological differences between the surveys. The latest survey included Asperger's syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder and other autism spectrum disorders. The findings were reported online Oct. 5 in Pediatrics (link).

In a related development, the National Institute of Mental Health awarded a $4.5 million grant to Children's Hospital Boston to pursue a "whole genome" sequencing of people with autism. About a dozen specific genes and mutations have been linked to the disorder, but about 85% of cases are still unexplained, according to researchers.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/10/12/prbf1012.htm.

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