AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new study of 266,000 children under 8 years old found 1 in 4 had autism but were undiagnosed.

That’s according to data gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts say the findings are concerning because it could lead to a delay in treatment.

“The most important thing for us is to get kids into therapy as soon as possible,” said Dr. Kate Labiner, Pediatric Neurologist at Child Neurology Consultants of Austin.

Labiner says early diagnosis is crucial but can sometimes be difficult.

“It is a spectrum disorder. Meaning you have some kids who are very affected and some who are much less affected — and I think it was those kids who were maybe trucking along, had some social skills issues, or having some trouble in school, that were maybe missed previously. But we are doing a better job now of catching them and catching them early.”

Labiner encourages parents to talk to their health care provider about any early signs of autism they may see in their children.

“These symptoms don’t manifest — and are not really obvious — until they get a little bit older and you may say ‘Hmm, you were doing that six months ago and we thought that was okay because you’re young but now you’re older and it’s not so okay anymore.

From there, doctors can put together a treatment plan if needed. The study was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal “Autism Research.”