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70 million people affected by Autism worldwide

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-04-03 10:53

UNITED NATIONS - The Bangladeshi permanent representative to the UN, Abdul Momen, on Tuesday called on the international community to mitigate its global health, social and economic strategy to help the 70 million people affected by Autism around the world.

Since 2002, the complex developmental brain disorder has grown by 57 percent and inflicted "one out of 88 children and 1 in 54 boys," he said.

"Boys are four times more likely than girls to have autism," Momen said at a UN panel discussion to mark the World Autism Awareness Day, which was observed annually on April 2.  

"Autism is the fastest growing serious developmental disability and since 2002 its growth rate is around 57 percent," he said.

Autism affects approximately one percent of the world population according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and is described as "complex developmental brain disorders - autism spectrum disorders - caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences," a UN press released said here.

Each year more children are diagnosed with an "autism spectrum condition than they are with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined" and "the most effective intervention is early detection followed by intensive, evidence based-behavioral therapy," Momen said in his opening remarks which were echoed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The secretary-general said in a message to mark the day that "international attention is essential to address stigma, lack of awareness and inadequate support structures" and "current research indicates that early interventions can help persons with autistic conditions to achieve significant gains in their abilities."

To honor the day around the world, 7,000 iconic structures, landmarks and corporations in more than 90 countries on all seven continents will shine the bright blue, the official awareness color of the disorder.

World Autism Awareness Day was created in 2007 by a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to "highlight the need to help improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from the condition, so they can lead full and meaningful lives," said the press release.

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