[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/05/art.autism.generic.cnn.jpg caption="Children at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta, Georgia, receive instruction on March 5, 2009."]
(CNN) - A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics indicates about 1 percent of children ages 3 to 17 have autism or a related disorder, an increase over previous estimates.
"This is a significant issue that needs immediate attention," Dr. Ileana Arias, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. "A concerted effort and substantial national response is warranted."
The study used data from the federal government's 2007 national survey of children's health. The survey of parents was conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration, and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The results are based on a national telephone survey of more than 78,000 parents of children ages 3 to 17.
In the study, parents were asked whether a health care provider had ever told them their child had an autism spectrum disorder. ASD is a group of brain disorders comprising autism and two less severe disorders: Asperger's disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.