A phone survey of parents in the United States found that 1 in 50 schoolchildren has autism, which surpasses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate of one in 88 children with the developmental disorder.
Michael Rosanoff, of Autism Speaks, says we are getting better at detecting autism in children.
"The one in 88 is very likely an underestimate of the true prevalence in the United States. What we've seen around the world when you go into classrooms and screen directly was about 2.5% This one in 50 --or two percent --is closer to that number. We'll see when the CDC releases their official statistics," said Rosanoff.
For decades, autism meant kids with severe language, intellectual and social impairments and unusual, repetitious behaviors. But the definition has gradually expanded and now includes milder, related conditions.
The new estimate released Wednesday would mean at least 1 million children have autism.