ATLANTA (AP) -- Autism cases are on the rise again, largely due to wider screening and better diagnosis, federal health officials said Thursday.
The rate of U.S. cases rose to about 1 in 88 children. The previous estimate was 1 in 110.
The new figure is from the latest in a series of studies that have been steadily increasing the government's autism estimate. This new number means autism is nearly twice as common as officials said it was only five years ago, and likely affects roughly 1 million U.S. children and teens.
Health officials attribute the increase largely to better recognition of cases, through wide screening and better diagnosis. But the search for the cause of autism is really only beginning, and officials acknowledge that other factors may be helping to drive up the numbers.
"We're not quite sure the reasons for the increase," said Dr. Coleen Boyle of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As in the past, advocacy groups seized on the new numbers as further evidence that autism research and services should get greater emphasis. The new figures indicate "a public health emergency that demands immediate attention," said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for the advocacy group Autism Speaks.
The CDC study released Thursday is considered the most comprehensive U.S. investigation of autism prevalence to date. Researcher gathered data from areas in 14 states - Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.
They looked specifically at children who were 8 years old because most autism is diagnosed by that age. They checked health and school records and calculated how common autism was in each place and overall.
An earlier report based on 2002 findings estimated that about 1 in 150 children that age had autism or a related disorder such as Asperger's syndrome. After seeing 2006 data, the figure was revised to about 1 in 110. The estimate released Thursday, based on 2008 data, is 1 in 88.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris is scheduled Friday to tour the Otay Mesa Immigration and Detention Facility, where she will visit migrant mothers who were separated from their children.
Sentencing is scheduled Friday for a San Diego man who beat, raped and strangled a female friend after watching her have sex with another couple, then stuffed her body in a suitcase and put it out with the trash.
As the weather heats up, County Animal Services says you may see more rattlesnakes out and about. The department has already received 656 rattlesnake calls since the beginning of the year, 100 more than last year at this time. Some 30 calls came in since last Wednesday.
A bleeding, gravely injured man banged on the door of a Lemon Grove home in an apparent last-gasp plea for help, and his death a short time later prompted sheriff's deputies to launch a homicide investigation, authorities said Friday.
High pressure over Northern Mexico will warm temperatures Friday. Coastal areas cooler due to weak onshore flow. Excessive heat warning in effect for San Diego County deserts through Friday evening.
Two dogs attacked a woman and her toddler son on an East County roadside Thursday, leaving them seriously injured, authorities said.
Come into Battle Axe and you are sure to learn a thing or two. The "axperts" will teach you two-handed throws and a little humility.
A local trash collector found a tiny treasure – and a friend for life - on the job recently. Michael Cabrera was finishing up his shift one night when he found a kitten trapped in his truck.