A UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute report found that the unprecedented increase in autism in California could not be explained by artificial factors, such as misclassification and criteria changes.
Led by principal investigator Robert Byrd, a UC Davis pediatrician, the study was conducted to help explain significant increases in the number of autistic children entering the 21 California Regional Centers. The California Department of Developmental Services, which operates the centers, had found a 273-percent increase in autism cases between 1987 and 1998. Discover magazine chose the study as one of its "100 Top Science Stories of 2002."