Another still current government survey puts the estimate at one in 68. However, researchers say the increase is probably due to the new methods being used to ask questions. This 1 in 80 rate is good for about 2.24 percent of all children, which is a more than substantial rate. “It’s just more and more kids, its more and more”, said Rosa. Data for this latest study was derived from detailed surveys of 35,000 United States households.

Also, a possibility is that some children receive an early diagnosis of autism that later turns out to be false.

The new survey asks about autism spectrum disorder in a stand-alone question, before asking about other developmental delays.

A new report shows a large increase in the number of children with autism.

“It’s asking about autism specifically, rather than grouping it in with a list of other disabilities”, Walton said. An October study from the Center for Health Statistics found that 13 percent of children who were determined to have autism later had their diagnosis reversed after further testing, reports CNN. This may have been confusing, Zablotsky said.

“That is definitely the take-home message”. Dr. Volkmar is not convinced by the study’s findings, saying in an email “This is a survey”.

The CDC’s key point is that the way physicians define autism spectrum disorder is changing – and therefore so are the numbers of kids who fall under that description. Symptoms often overlap with other disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, cerebral palsy or various learning disorders.

Experts warn the new data is largely the result of a change in the way the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects information on autism. The group has long suggested that U.S. officials have been underestimating the commonness of the condition. This is a significant increase from 2014, when 1 in 68 children had been diagnosed. However, one must keep in mind that the health agency made the previous estimates based on data obtained from a different survey called the Autism & Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network.

“To see that big change in prevalence over a four-year period – from 1 in 80, to 1 in 45 – research workers would additionally should be seeing a dramatic change in risk factors for autism in the population”, Fitzgerald said.

“There are so many more professionals who can diagnose autism now”, Alderman added.

She encourages parents to screen children early, because therapy can start early and produce better outcomes.

While the prevalence of reported autism went up, the number of kids with reported developmental disorders went down. “And with more money, you can provide more services”.

Children With Autism May Have Been Undercounted

Rise in kids diagnosed with autism