Is autism a growing epidemic or not? Recent reports have suggested that autism is on the rise, but a new study from the U.K. finds that the prevalence of this developmental disorder has remained stable. It may be that doctors are diagnosing it more often in young people -- not that it's actually happening more. Researchers performed clinical assessments of 618 adults and found that nearly 1 percent of Britons over age 16 suffered from autism -- meaning the adult rate is no higher than that seen among children in the U.K.
"If the rate of autism is actually increasing rapidly, you'd expect rates to be much lower in older adults, but we didn't find that," says Dr. Traolach Brugha, lead author on the study and psychiatrist at the University of Leicester, U.K. "We found similar rates at 16 up to the 70s and 80s. That suggests that the number of people developing the condition have not changed over the last seventy or eighty years."
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