New research finds that autism prevalence among U.S. children is continuing to rise.

In a study looking at data on more than 12,500 kids ages 3 to 17 across the country, researchers determined that 3.14% had autism.

The findings, published this month in JAMA Pediatrics, are based on information collected through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 and 2020 National Health Interview Survey, a routine poll soliciting information about all types of health matters from individuals across the country.

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As part of the nationwide survey, parents were asked if a doctor or other health professional had ever told them that their child had autism, Asperger’s disorder, pervasive developmental disorder or autism spectrum disorder. In 410 cases, the answer was yes.

Boys were nearly three times more likely than girls to be on the spectrum, according to the study findings. And, there was a “significant difference” in prevalence based on a family’s economic status with lower income children more likely to have autism.

The overall autism rate identified in the study is significantly higher than other estimates in recent years.

Data from the National Health Interview Survey conducted between 2014 and 2016 pegged autism prevalence at 2.47%. Then, numbers decreased from 2016 to 2017, before rising again, the study said.

Meanwhile, the researchers noted that the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health suggested that 2.50% of children had autism.

And, a separate CDC study that relies on a review of health and educational records for 8-year-olds in select communities found that 2.3% of children had autism in 2018. The CDC uses this data for its official prevalence estimate.

The researchers behind the latest analysis note that because the information was supplied by parents and caregivers, the data could be affected by recall bias.

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