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CDC Announces 30% Increase in Autism, Experts re-act

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

It is a staggering number - the Centers for Disease Control says the number of American Children challenged with autism has jumped 30 percent in just two years to one in 68.

Katy mom Leslie Phillips, who sits on the National Autism Association board, calls it the latest, best proof of a worsening epidemic.

"We have spent $1.6 billion in the last eight years on autism. We haven't prevented a single new case of autism. We have no new treatments. The leadership has got to go," said Phillips who is raising a son challenged with disorder.

The numbers among boys are truly alarming - one out of every 45 in this country were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder

This latest CDC data was gathered from 11 states and recorded all cases from the most severe to the milder forms of the neurological condition.

"The numbers are extremely alarming," said Dr. Diane Treadwell, a psychiatrist at the Autism Center within Texas Children's Hospital

While she and many in the medical community contend the numbers have leaped so dramatically because of better diagnosis, Treadwell also believes a significant part of the increase can be attributed to misdiagnosis, especially among teenagers.

"We would say that about 60 percent of the children who come to our clinic do not have autism and when we look at the older age group the number is probably higher, so that for a variety of reasons people have looked at the sets of difficulties and assigned this label that we disagree with," said Treadwell

Phillips believes that kind analysis serves only to divert attention from a genuine health crisis and she calls the latest CDC numbers a national wake up call.

"Why can we find a piece of lettuce in California that's causing a bacterial outbreak within a week, but we can't figure out the autism epidemic in 30 years?," said Phillips.

The CDC estimates 1.2 million American children are challenged with some form of autism.

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