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Autism Affects About 300,000 Children in United States

Two surveys suggest parent-reported diagnosis of autism at 5.5 per 1,000 to 5.7 per 1,000 children

MONDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- Autism affects an estimated 300,000 U.S. children between the ages of 4 and 17, according to an analysis of two nationally representative surveys published online May 5 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The diagnosis is 3.7 times as common in males than females and the peak prevalence was observed at ages 6 to 11.

Laura A. Schieve, Ph.D., of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, and colleagues analyzed 2003-2004 results of two surveys of parents to estimate the national prevalence of autism.

The National Health Interview Survey, involving 24,673 children, found that 5.7 per 1,000 children have been diagnosed with autism; the National Survey of Children's Health, a random CDC telephone survey involving 102,353 children, found that 5.5 per 1,000 have been diagnosed with autism.

These findings compliment other CDC studies of the prevalence of autism, the authors write. "CDC has recognized the need to improve early detection of autism and has begun a public education campaign with national partner groups (Learn the Signs. Act Early) to educate parents and professionals about early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders and to encourage developmental screening and intervention."

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