A new study on autism is raising the alarm among some experts on the disorder. The study shows a dramatic increase in the number of children with autism.
There are probably several reasons for the increase. Among them -- an improved awareness of the disorder leading to higher reporting.
This latest study looked at children 6 t0 17, and was based on parents' reports.
The study says now in this country 1 of every 50 school aged child has some form of autism. That's up from the 1 in 88 who had autism, that's a different study announced last year.
"To go from 1 in 88 to 1 in 50 it's a huge increase. You're going from 1.1 percent of kids developing autism to now 2 percent of children in the U.S. developing autism," says Prof. James Adams.
Dr. Jim Adams heads the ASU Autism Asperger's Research program. His daughter has autism. He says this study should be a wake-up call for the nation.
"We should be very alarmed and working very hard figuring out how to prevent it and how to treat the people who have it. It's clearly an epidemic when you're affecting two percent of the children in the U.S."
What causes this developmental disorder in children, no one knows definitively. Dr. Adams says research points to many factors
"Part of it is due to low amounts of folic acid. At ASU we've been focused on levels of toxic metals being much higher in children with autism so we know it's partly due to changes in the environment."
The challenge, says Adams, is not enough research is being done.
"Right now the federal government spends very small amounts of money on research very little on treatment, nothing on prevention. There are no prevention studies out there right now so it's very frustrating."
Professor Adams says as an autism parent and a researcher, he believes we need to dramatically increase what we spend on research, so we can learn more about autism, and find a way to prevent it.