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South Korea Town has Highest Autism Rate Ever

Researchers say nearly 3% of kids in Seoul suburb have disease
By Tim Karan,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2011 4:09 PM CDT

(Newser) – Researchers have discovered the highest rate of autism ever found in a general population within a suburb of Seoul, South Korea. About 2.6% of the children in Ilsan have some form of the disease, reports the Los Angeles Times. That contrasts with the 1% figure found in the US and Europe, but researchers say that their six-year study was simply more thorough than most and that they would likely find similar rates elsewhere.

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About two-thirds of the children diagnosed had milder varieties of autism such as Asperger's, according to the study in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The finding came as a jolt to many parents in the middle-class town, where only severe forms of the disease had been previously recognized. "It was so shocking," says one mother. "I felt huge guilt, which is natural for a parent, then pain and hopelessness." (Read more South Korea stories.)

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