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Autism Spectrum Disorders Far More Prevalent Than Thought

(PSYCHIATRIC TIMES) - ATLANTA, Feb. 8 -- Autism spectrum disorders are much more common than previously thought, and could affect as many as one in 150 school-age children, CDC researchers reported today.

"Autism is more common than we believed and is an urgent public health problem," said Catherine Rice, Ph.D., a behavioral scientist at the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, in a briefing.

Data from a nationwide surveillance program conducted at sites in 14 states in 2002 suggest that the overall prevalence of ASD is about 6.6 per 1,000 eight-year-old children, ranging from a low of 3.3 per 1,000 in Alabama to a high of 10.6 per 1,000 in New Jersey, CDC investigators reported in the Feb. 9 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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