New U.S. figures: 1 in 100 kids have autism

(AP) - Federal health officials say greater awareness,broader definitions and spotting autism in younger children mayexplain some of the increase in the proportion of children withdisorders.

Two new government studies indicate about 1 in 100 children haveautism disorders, higher than a previous estimate of 1 in 150.

Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of MentalHealth, says the main concern is determining whether there's a"true increase" in the numbers.

The new estimate would mean about 673,000 American children haveautism. Previous estimates put the number at about 560,000.

One of the studies stems from the 2007 National Survey ofChildren's Health. The results are in October's Pediatrics.

The other government estimate is from the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention and has not been formally released yet.

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