Two government studies have indicated that autism is much more common in children than previously thought: 1 in 100 as opposed to 1 in 150, according to the Associated Press.
Greater awareness, broader definitions and spotting autism in younger children may explain some of the increase, federal health officials said.
“The concern here is that buried in these numbers is a true increase,” said Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. “We’re going to have to think very hard about what we’re going to do for the 1 in 100.”
Figuring out how many children have autism is extremely difficult because diagnosis is based on a child’s behavior, said Dr. Susan E. Levy of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics subcommittee on autism.
“With diabetes you can get a blood test,” said Levy. “As of yet, there’s no consistent biologic marker we can use to make the diagnosis of autism.”
The new estimate would mean about 673,000 American children have autism. Previous estimates put the number at about 560,000….
Children with autism can have trouble communicating and interacting socially. They may have poor eye contact and engage in repetitive behavior such as rocking or hand-flapping.
In other medical briefs, 13 millions babies worldwide are born premature, according to the Associated Press. The number of premature births are concentrated in Africa, followed by North America. I thought the ways African mothers — many who lack medical technology — cared for their premature infants were interesting.