For years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that one in 88 American children have autism -- but now, officials are reporting an increase to one in 50.
The CDC's previous numbers were based on a study conducted in 2008 which focused on 8-year-olds in 14 states. The agency's new estimate comes from a national phone survey of more than 95,000 parents in 2011 and 2012.
The results of that survey show that at least 1 million children have autism, but the CDC admits fewer than a quarter of parents contacted agreed to answer their questions and it's likely that parents of autistic children were more interested in participating.
Health officials say the new number doesn't mean autism is occurring more often, but it does suggest that doctors are diagnosing autism more frequently -- especially in children with milder symptoms.
Yet, the numbers are important because, if it's more prevalent, more money will be spent on research.
While this is clearly a topic that focuses on children, more light is also being shed on the fact these kids grow up to be adults. FOX 9 News spoke with Dawn Brasch, with the Autism Society of Minnesota, about what treatments are available and what the study results may mean for families.