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The first national surveys of autism show the condition is very common among U.S. children.
This adds up to at least 300,000 U.S. schoolchildren with autism, a condition that causes trouble with learning, socializing and behavior.
The CDC analyzed data on 24,673 children whose parents took part in two separate government surveys on health in the United States to generate its first national estimate of the prevalence of autism. These two national surveys of parents indicate that at least 300,000 children aged 4 to 17 years old had autism in 2003-04.
The 1996 Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program survey showed autism had been diagnosed in 3.4 per 1,000 of the 3- to 10-year-olds included, or one in every 296. The 1998 Brick Township, New Jersey survey showed a rate of 6.7 per 1,000 children of the same age, or one in every 166.
None of the surveys pointed to a cause for autism -- a matter of deep controversy in the United States. Some groups have accused the CDC of covering up data that would link autism with vaccines, although studies in several countries have discounted such a link.
While there were some differences among age groups, the CDC said the differences were not statistically significant.
"Both surveys indicated that boys were nearly four times more likely to have been diagnosed with autism than girls," the CDC said in the report, published in its weekly report on death and disease.
Laura Schieve, an epidemiologist at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities who helped conduct the study, said the study could not answer many questions about autism. If children have autism, parents want to know what caused it and how they can lower this risk if they have other children.

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Yet another piece of anecdotal PR. Why would anyone trust the CDC to tell us anything. How many flu pandemic scams have we had? Now they are forcing public sector workers to have an annual flu jab - probably the most futile pseudo medicine on the planet. Autism is very common in America because they have the highest vaccine baby rate in the world and a pretty poor infant mortality rate as a result. I used to believe in the vaccine fallacy - but the science just doesn't pan out
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