"Federal health authorities have significantly raised their estimate of the prevalence of autism in children, concluding in a new study of 8-year-olds that 1 in 88 has some form of the disorder."
"For the analysis, released Thursday, researchers scoured tens of thousands of health and special education records in 14 states, looking for an autism diagnosis or the symptoms that would add up to one. It is the latest in a series of studies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing autism rates climbing dramatically over the last decade.
The previous estimate was 1 in 110.
The new figure, based on 2008 data, is sure to fuel debate over whether a growing environmental threat could be at work. But autism researchers around the country said the CDC data — including striking geographic and racial variations in the rates and how they have changed — suggest that rising awareness of the disorder, better detection and improved access to services can explain much of the surge, and perhaps all of it."