Beijing: Four in every 1,000 children aged between 6 to 12 in China have autism, an incidence that experts say is higher than expected.
The new data was found in first national epidemiological investigation into the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder, official media reported.
Symptoms include differences and disabilities in many areas including social communication skills, motor skills, and sometimes intellectual skills as well as unusual responses to sensory input such as unusual sensitivity to light and sound, or sensory cravings.
"The investigation figures did not include those children who stay at home or those in special schools, as they had already been diagnosed as ASD patients," Wang Yi, vice-president of the Children's Hospital at Fudan University in Shanghai, who led the project was quoted as saying by Shanghai Daily.
More than half of the children in the project were diagnosed with autism for the first time, Wang said.
"Such data obtained at the national level for the first time shows that ASD is much more serious than we imagined. The figure is close to the incidence rate of epilepsy among children in China," he said.
The statistics were announced at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Shanghai on Saturday.