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Latest US estimate suggests 1 in 45 children have autism

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CANTON — Officials say the latest government estimate of the number of children with autism supports a belief that the frequency of the disorder may be underestimated.

The latest figure released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 1 in 45 U.S. children have the developmental disorder. But other federal calculations find autism is less common than that.

The new number is from a survey of parents of 13,000 children, who were asked last year if their child were ever diagnosed with autism or a related disorder.

The most rigorous number, from checks of school records, gives a lower estimate of 1 in 68 children and the advocacy group Autism Speaks says that figure will be treated as the best estimate, even though it may be low.

Estimates of how common autism is have been steadily increasing.

Staff at Focus Center For Autism in Canton are not sure how accurate the 1 in 45 number is.

"It's kind of hard to always know the numbers because I think, especially the kids we deal with, are the ones that can go under the radar," said Sandy Kissel, program director.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.