Study Highlights Health Risks For Those With Autism
Researchers are warning that more attention needs to be paid to the overall health of adults with autism, with a new study finding them at greater risk for a host of maladies.
Adults on the spectrum have higher rates of health conditions ranging from seizure disorders and depression to hypertension, high cholesterol, allergies and anxiety, according to findings published recently in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
“Although it has been extensively studied in children, little is known about health conditions in adults with autism,” said Robert Fortuna, an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics in primary care at the University of Rochester Medical Center, who led the study. “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.”
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For the study, researchers looked at 255 adults with autism ages 18 to 71 and a similar group of typically-developing individuals.
Seizure disorders were eight times more common in young adults with autism ages 18 to 29 as compared to others the same age. And, that differential doubled for those over 40, the study found.
Meanwhile, the research suggests that rates of hypertension and depression are more than twice as high among young adults on the spectrum. However, those with autism were less likely to have sexually transmitted diseases, use tobacco or abuse alcohol.
“This study highlights the importance of careful monitoring of their health status and urges us to examine best practices to facilitate their access to high-quality health care,” said Philip Davidson of the University of Rochester Medical Center, a senior author of the study.
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