Contrary to popular belief, rates of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) aren't increasing, a new study has found.

The study was conducted by Dr Amanda Baxter from UQ's Queensland Centre for Mental Health and colleagues. The team used data from 1990 to 2010 to find whether or not autism rates are on the rise.

"We found that the prevalence of ASDs in 2010 was one in 132 people, which represents no change from 1990," Dr Baxter said.

Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is a range of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by problems in communication, inability to form social connections and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior.

Recently, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report saying that autism rates in the U.S. had jumped 30 percent in two years. In the U.S., around one in 68 children has autism.

In the current study, the researchers found that the rate of autism isn't increasing and that recognition and diagnostic criteria for the disorder explains the surge in number of children with autism.

According to the current study, around 52 million children and adults worldwide meet the criteria for ASD.

The researchers said that their study will help experts improve policies aimed to help people with this disability.

"As ASDs cause substantial lifelong health issues, an accurate understanding of the burden of these disorders can inform public health policy as well as help allocate necessary resources for education, housing and employment," she said.

The researchers at the University of Leicester and the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation participated in the study and it is published in the Psychological Medicine journal.