The bulk of the increase in autism prevalence the United States between 2000 and 2012 can be attributed to children on the mild end of the spectrum.
There are several theories about the reasons for this rise, but most experts agree that most of it is the result of increased awareness about the condition.
The new data support this theory, says Eric Fombonne, professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, who was not involved in the study. The results suggest that autism prevalence is rising because the ADDM is detecting children now that it would have missed 18 years ago. “To me, it’s an artifact of detection,” he says.
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