UI analysis shows more kids diagnosed with autism

By  | 

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- New research suggests that doctors may be diagnosing more children with autism.

A University of Iowa analysis shows about one in every 41 children has autism. That's about a one percent increase from earlier estimates. Dr. Wei Bao with the University of Iowa College of Public Health hopes they will get more resources. More kids with autism means they need more special education teachers and more healthcare specialists.

The analysis found that the Midwest region has the second highest prevalence of autism in the country. Researchers said the increase could have something to do with different ways of diagnosing autism and the fact that more people are aware of autism than they were a few decades ago. Dr. Bao said there is an urgent need to provide more funding for research projects to find out the reasons for the increase.

"They could include genetic and environmental risk factors and another part of the reason could be some change in diagnosing the criteria," said Dr. Bao.

Parents of autistic kids want that, too. One father said he wants to see more money go to local communities accommodate autistic people. That could include designing buildings with fewer fluorescent lights and better acoustics or hiring more special education staff for schools.

"We need more. We don't have enough personnel with high training to take care of that much kids that are coming with autism diagnoses lately," said Leonardo Marchini of Iowa City. Marchini's son has autism.

Parents said most kids with autism can do almost everything if they receive the right education and resources. Dr. Bao said kids have a higher risk for autism if their moms had diabetes before or during pregnancy, but there could be a lot of other reasons for the increase.