MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — National health groups are joining a study into autism rates among Somalis living in Minneapolis.

The advocacy group Autism Speaks said Tuesday it will collaborate on the study with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

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Autism Speaks is contributing funding to the investigation. It’s expected to start early this year.

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In 2009, the Minnesota Health Department found that young Somali children in Minneapolis public schools are over-represented in autism programs. But state health officials cautioned that the finding doesn’t necessarily mean a higher rate of autism among Somalis.

Idil Abdull, a Minneapolis mother of an autistic child, asked last October for a systematic investigation into autism rates among Somali children living in Minnesota.

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