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Study: 5.5 out of 1,000 U.S. kids autistic

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published May 5, 2006


ATLANTA - About 300,000 U.S. children have been diagnosed with autism, according to the largest national study so far of the prevalence of this complex behavioral disorder.

That means about 5.5 out of every 1,000 school-age children have been diagnosed with autism.

Past estimates have ranged from 1 to 9 of every 1,000 children, based on smaller studies in states or cities.

The government-run study released Thursday reports findings from national surveys of tens of thousands of families.

The study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found boys are nearly four times more likely than girls to be identified with the condition.

"There's somewhat of a dearth of information how autism impacts children and their families," said lead author Laura Schieve, an epidemiologist with the CDC.

Because of its national scope, the CDC report "is probably one of the best" studies of how often autism is diagnosed, said Dr. Eric Hollander, an autism expert at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

The study does not attempt to answer whether autism is increasing - a controversial topic, driven in part by a debate over whether autism is linked to a vaccine preservative. The new research is being published this week in the CDC publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

[Last modified May 5, 2006, 08:56:19]


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