Approximately one out of every 68 children is on the autism spectrum as of 2015, according to Autism Speaks. Autism has become 10 times as prevalent as it was 40 years ago, which is believed to be only partially due to increasing awareness of the condition and improved diagnoses.
Research shows that autism is four to five times more likely to occur in boys than girls, with roughly one out of 42 boys and one out of 189 girls being on the spectrum, notes Autism Speaks. In the United States, approximately 2 million people have autism, and tens of millions of people are on the spectrum globally. Statistics suggest that those numbers have increased 10 to 17 percent every year in recent years, and there is no definitive reason for these rising numbers. In the United States, autism is the most rapidly growing developmental disorder.
There is currently no cure or medical detection for autism, states Autism Speaks. Research that has taken place over the past few years suggests that genetic mutations may be responsible for some cases of autism. People who are genetically predisposed to having autism may have those risks increased by environmental or other nongenetic factors. Research suggests that occurrences before or during childbirth may cause early brain development problems, including autism.