What is the health status of adults on the autism spectrum?
In April of 2012, the Special Hope Foundation awarded a research grant to the Kaiser Foundation to utilize their electronic health care records to look at the prevalence of adults with autism. The data was be evaluated to investigate comorbidities, utilization of medications, and access to primary health care.
The results of the research project were recently published. They confirmed that there is a lot of work to be done to make sure that adults with autism get access to the healthcare they need.
“The prevalence of co-occurring medical and psychiatric conditions is very high in adults with autism in pretty much every category across the board,” says lead researcher Lisa Croen, director of the Autism Research Program at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California.
The study found that adults with autism had significantly increased rates of all major psychiatric disorders including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and suicide attempts. Nearly all medical conditions were significantly more common in adults with autism, including immune conditions, gastrointestinal and sleep disorders, seizure, obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes. Rarer conditions, such as stroke and Parkinson’s disease, were also significantly more common among adults with autism.
Future research is needed to understand the social, healthcare access, and biological factors underlying these observations.
I also found this write up by Jessica Wright of SFARI (Simon Foundation Autism Research Initiative) very helpful.
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