Credit: Thinkstock

A new study by the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention on the rates of autism in the U.S. has shocked many by suggesting that the disorder is much more common than previously thought.

According to CNN, data collected in the study led researchers to conclude that as many as 1 in 68 children may be affected with the an autism spectrum disorder. That’s a 30 percent increase from the previous number of 1 in 88 a mere two years ago.

The new estimates were based on data from 8-year-old children in 11 states, including Alaska, Georgia, Utah, and North Carolina. The study also found that those diagnosed with autism tend to have average or above-average IQ levels, especially compared with previous years’ data.

Another question raised by the study is why children diagnosed with autism continue to be predominantly male. The new report states that 1 in 42 boys has the disorder, compared to 1 in 189 girls.

Although CDC researchers did not address the increase in the rates of the disorder in this study, the findings will likely provide fuel for vocal autism-awareness celebrity advocates like Jenny McCarthy and Kristin Cavallari, who are not shy about making their theories about autism’s possible causes known. McCarthy in particular has come under fire for repeatedly speaking out about a possible link between autism and vaccinations.

Source: CNN