One in 68 American children has autism

WASHINGTON (ABC News) - A new report from the centers for Disease Control says one in 68 American children has autism.

That is a significant increase in the disorder since the last major study in 2008.

Despite greater awareness and attention, there are still no answers to what's behind these numbers and whether autism is on the rise.

The new statistics are sobering. According to data released today by the Centers for Disease Control one in 68 American kids has autism.

Sadly we're not surprised. This doesn’t shock me at all,” said Liz Feld, Autism Speaks presient.

Among boys - it's 1 in 42. Girls: 1 in 189.

Over the years, the definition of autism has expanded and this new study suggests the developmental disorder is on the rise.

A 29 percent increase in prevalence since the last study in 2008and a 62 percent increase since 2006.

Some advocacy groups say these figures may be underestimated.

There are no blood or medical tests for autism...doctors provide an assessment based on a child's behavior, communication and social interactions. Symptoms usually appear by age 2.

But there are so many unanswered questions. At the top of the Autism becoming common or more recognized and diagnosed?

“I’m afraid there's not going to be a simple answer - there's not a single explanation. It's likely to be many different things,” said Rob Ring, Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer.

Experts point to an increase in awareness driving more families to act on concerns and ask questions.

There's also been an improvement in identifying warning signs...better guidance for developmental screenings means kids are being diagnosed at younger ages.

And doctors say early intervention is critical.

“Diagnosis might happen at 2 - 9 - but people live their entire lives,” said Feld.

The advocacy group Autism Speaks will launch a month of awareness on April

Autism advocates were on Capitol Hill today pushing lawmakers to develop a national strategy so families can get the support they need.

If you have concerns about your child, visit this SITE for red flags you should watch out for.  The University of Utah is also a major player in Autism Research - you can find more information on the services they provide HERE.

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