Recent studies show a rise in children with autism

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A new report from the CDC is backing up a recent University of Iowa study suggesting autism rates in children are rising.

The CDC found 1 in 59 children were found to have autism in 2014, compared to 1 in 150 children in 2000.

Instead of waiting until a child is 4-years-old, the University of Iowa Center for Disabilities and Development are now diagnosing children at 2 or 3 years of age and sometimes even younger.

As for the CDC, it collected records in 11 states and studied 8-year-old children with autism.

They found about 1 in 59 children had autism, but University of Iowa researchers say it's actually higher, they looked at data from across the country and found that 1 in 42 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Doctors say this rise could be because they are screening children at earlier age.

"More children are being diagnosed because they are identifying it more, our criterion of what we include in that diagnoses of autism has sort of expanded over time, I think there are definitely reasons why these numbers are increasing across time," says Dr. Lane Strathearn, a developmental and behavior pediatrician with the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Doctors are currently studying whether there are environmental, in addition to genetic risk factors contributing to increased autism numbers.

The University of Iowa is collecting genetic information to see if DNA plays a role in the increased risk.

Doctors say family members and friends are also more aware of the disorder than they were previously and doctors say the best thing parents can do if their child does have the disorder is to be involved in their child's development.

"They play an absolutely critical role in supporting their child's development, working alongside the professionals, the speech therapist, the behavior therapist, it really needs to be a well-integrated team, but they play a critical role," says Dr. Strathearn.

The center is also helping children at an earlier age with behavior issues or occupational therapy for sensory issues so they can do well later in life.

They say early detection is now leading to better treatment and therapies.