Autistic Adults May Be More Prone to Chronic Diseases

A recent medical study has discovered that particular health woes are common among adults with Autism. Autistic adults are more likely to develop depression and have high blood pressure, which doctors believe may be attributed partly to social isolation. Although it has been known that adults and children with Autism face more medical diagnoses than their peers, this is the first large study to look at just how common these issues are among those with Autism disorders.

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente Northern California focused on nearly 25,000 medical and insurance records for individuals age 18 and older, with over 2,000 of the individuals having an Autism disorder. Researchers analyzed these records and found that medical and psychiatric disorders are more prevalent in adults with Autism than neurotypical individuals of the same age range.

The study discovered that depression and anxiety are more than twice as common for those on the spectrum, while bipolar disorder is 8 times as likely. Researchers also stated that vision and hearing impairments, as well as osteoporosis and chronic heart failure were significantly more common in adults with Autism, in comparison with the control group.

Lisa Croen, Director of the Autism Research Program at Kaiser Permanente who also led the study, states that physicians need better training on how to treat individuals on the spectrum throughout their life span. In addition, improvements are needed in the transition from pediatric care to adult medical care. “Children with Autism become adults with Autism”, Croen states. She continues, “Doctors caring for adults need to be aware that adults have Autism, and an adult with Autism [could be their patient] walking through the door.”

Researchers believe that one reason behind the high prevalence of these medical issues among Autistic adults may be their social and communication hindrances, which may lead to diminished preventive care. In addition, many suffer from sensitivities to light, touch, and sound, which may intimidate them from receiving proper medical care.

Adults with Autism are less likely to smoke or drink alcohol, habits that typically contribute to the medical issues that happen to heavily affect Autistic adults. Scientists believe that this could mean that their biological makeup may contribute to some of these illnesses. Autism expert David Mandell, director of the mental health policy center at the University of Pennsylvania, states that any medical treatment Autistic individuals receive typically focuses on behavioral issues. This study highlights the need to focus equally on these very important health issues, many of which can be treated.

The ICare4Autism International Autism Conference will be discussing additional medical research and important scientific advances in NYC on July 1st. Speakers include Dr. Paulo Fontoura, Global Head and Vice President of Translational Medicine at Roche Pharmaceuticals, who will be discussing recent advances in translational medicine. To hear Dr. Fontoura speak, please select tickets for the conference here.  Early bird ticket specials are still available! This is an Autism conference that you will not want to miss!

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