Around 1 in 45 kids in the US have autism spectrum disorder, suggests new estimates on the prevalence of the condition in 2014. The said report was prepared based on data obtained during the annual National Health Interview Survey that involved interviewing parents about their kids. According to the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), this is the very first report detailing prevalence of autism in the country to provide data for the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

It’s true that the newly presented numbers mark a significant rise in the number of autism cases in children from the previous estimates presented by the CDC, according to which 1 in every 68 kids in the US was autistic. 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. The Autism & Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network collects facts and figures from medical records of children.

The estimate is suggesting that 1 in every 68 children in America has autism, although made public in 2014, was based on data obtained from a 2010 survey.

Here, it must be mentioned that none of the monitoring methods and interview surveys that report a rise in the occurrence of autism in America tried to find out the possible causes behind the rise.

According to epidemiologist Robert Fitzgerald, an expert representing the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, one possible cause might be the rise in awareness about the condition among both health care providers and parents. Fitzgerald was not a part of the research team conducting the survey.

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For instance, there was a time when some kids, who are now categorized as autistic, used to be tagged as individuals suffering from some kind of intellectual disability. The last few years have also witnessed changes taking place in the symptoms and diagnostic criteria used for describing autistic spectrum disorder.

Another possible reason behind the rise, according to Fitzgerald, can be the decrease in the stigma of having the condition. Earlier, even doctors shied away from tagging children as autistics, which didn’t allow the medical records to reflect the accurate rates of occurrence of the disorder.