An expert has warned about the rising number of autism cases globally, saying that early diagnosis is important to increase the quality of life for children with the developmental disorder. 

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Keiko Belir Yarar, head of the Turkiye-based Ilgi Autism Association, said the number of children diagnosed with autism rises every year, adding many families are hesitant to take their children to hospitals due to the risk of virus transmission during the coronavirus pandemic.

Citing data compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Yarar said it was “worrying to see the number of diagnoses increasing exponentially every year.”

Autism spectrum disorder is defined as a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that is congenital, occurs within the first three years of life and continues throughout life, she said.

“Although it is not known what causes it, there are findings on a genetic basis, and studies show that environmental factors also increase the risk of autism,” she added.

Stressing that autism is not defined as a “disease,” Yarar urged families to apply to relevant centers or hospitals if their children show symptoms.

“Early diagnosis contributes positively to the development of the child and increases the quality of life,” she stressed.

According to the CDC, one in every 54 children in 2020 were diagnosed autism in the US and the figure was one in every 44 children in 2021.

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.