It is estimated that 1 in 68 children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but what happens when those children grow up? Relatively little is known about the health of adults with ASD, but a new study from the University of Rochester Medical Center is changing that. The study reveals that adults with ASD are more likely to have serious health problems than individuals in the general population. The findings suggest a need for greater advocacy and awareness to ensure adults with ASD have access to appropriate care.
The researchers analyzed data from 225 adults with ASD, aged 18 to 71. They compared the adults with ASD to a demographically similar sample of the general population.
Adults with ASD are more likely have health disorders than adults in the general population. Adults with ASD were particularly more likely to suffer from seizure disorders and depression. Young adults with ASD had higher rates of hypertension, high cholesterol, allergies, and anxiety.
Many adults with ASD had conditions that necessitated help with daily living. A significant portion of the group had intellectual disabilities (as measured by low IQ). Adults with intellectual disability and depression were more likely to need help with functional tasks. Seizure disorders were also associated with an increased need for daily living assistance. A majority of the adults over 40 required some assistance with daily living.
The researchers state that the study highlights the need for awareness among healthcare practitioners and for monitoring of the health status of people with ASD.
“Adults with autism frequently face barriers to accessing health care and receiving recommended treatments for common problems. Therefore, greater awareness is needed to ensure that adults with autism are treated for conditions that are more prevalent with autism as well as conditions that are commonly encountered with advancing age,” stated lead study author Robert Fortuna, MD, MPH, assistant professor of Medicine and Pediatrics in Primary Care.
This research is published in the Journal of Greater Internal Medicine.
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