A new study has found that autism has increased in Australia. According to the researchers, the 20-fold increase is due to the increased diagnosis of autism today. The findings do not mean that more children are born with autism nowadays. Clinicians are now diagnosing autism in children that exhibit less severe behavioral symptoms, which could have been ignored in the past.

“Other research has shown these children would previously have either received a diagnosis of another condition such as language impairment, or not received any diagnosis at all,” said Professor Andrew Whitehouse, the head of autism research at Perth’s Telethon Kids, Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The study involved more than 1,200 children that were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders between 2000 and 2006, the same period that researchers say had the highest number of autistics diagnosed globally.  Researchers say that children diagnosed with the condition increased 20 times since 1970s but its prevalence has gone down to one percent. The study was published in the journal Autism Research on Monday.

Professor Whitehouse adds that we understand autism more today than years ago. Experts now determined more types of behavior that will allow a child to be diagnosed with autism, which was formerly diagnosed in children with severe symptoms like intellectual disability.

Autismspeaks.org says that autism can characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. It can be caused by genetic mutation and environmental factors that affect early brain development.

A new study published by JAMA Pediatrics found no link between flu during pregnancy and increased risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in children, despite concerns. The findings also reveal that ASD is not caused by influenza vaccination during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. “While we do not advocate changes in vaccine policy or practice, we believe that additional studies are warranted to further evaluate any potential associations between first-trimester maternal influenza vaccination and autism,” the study authors said.