The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to unveil a new autism prevalence estimate as early as this month.

The agency currently says that 1 in 110 children have autism, a figure first released in late 2009. Now, less than three years later, the CDC is set for an update.

Autism rates have soared over the last three decades, making the numbers closely watched. As recently as the 1970s, the developmental disorder was believed to affect just 1 in 2,000 children. Since that time, estimates have risen 18 fold.

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The reason for the steep rise is not entirely clear, with some attributing the growth to increased diagnosis and others believing the change is due to a higher occurrence of autism.

Researchers at the CDC are now putting the finishing touches on a new report that’s anticipated to update the current numbers. A firm publication date for the new finding is unclear, but officials at the agency say it could be as soon as later this month when the new estimates are published in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Ahead of the report’s release, multiple autism experts contacted by Disability Scoop declined to comment on the forthcoming figures.

However, a study published last year suggests there still may be room for autism rates to rise. That report — based on evaluations of every child age 7 to 12 in one South Korean community — found autism occurring in one out of every 38 kids.

Traditionally, estimates in the United States rely on existing medical or educational records as opposed to direct assessments.

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