The Checkup: Autism Rate Now at 1 in 50 School Kids, Health Officials Say

A new survey shows an increase in childhood autism—but not everybody's buying it.

• Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote about an uptick in our country’s autism rate, which increased 23 percent in two years from 1 in 110 kids to 1 in 88. Government officials reported yesterday that the rate has shifted again, standing now at 1 in 50 school kids with autism diagnoses. Experts say the new numbers aren’t necessary indicative of autism occurring more often, “but it does suggest that doctors are diagnosing autism more frequently,” the AP reports, “especially in children with milder problems.” The new estimate comes with its share of controversy, as it’s based on a phone survey of more than 95,000 parents, less than a quarter of whom agreed to answer the survey questions in the first place. And those who did agree may have been more likely to have a child with autism, skewing the results. The method, some say, is far less rigorous—and therefore, less trustworthy—than last year’s estimate, which was the outcome of a study that looked at school and medical records. However—and here’s the kicker—if the new figure stands, it would mean that 1 million kids in the U.S. have autism. The AP has more here.

• Let’s bring parasols back, ladies (and gents, too, if you want in)! A study by dermatologists at Emory University found that umbrellas can block more than three-quarters of UV light on a sunny day—which, of course, means healthier skin in the long run. Read more here.

Does low-fat milk make kids heavier? Yup, according to a new study of pre-school kids. The study of more than 10,000 American children found that those who drink skim or 1 percent milk are more likely to be overweight or obese than those who drink 2 percent or whole milk. More here.

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