IN-HOSPITAL MORTALITY RISK FOR PERSONS WITH AUTISM

30 Jul

WHEN HOSPITALIZED, AUTISM PATIENTS, AND FEMALES MORE, HAVE HIGHER RISK OF DEATH COMPARED TO NEUROTYPICALS

     by Lirio S. Covey, Ph.D.

A large, US-based study found that when hospitalized, adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a nearly 50 percent higher risk of death compared to the general population.

Also found was that this greater risk is about twice higher in women with ASD compared to men with ASD, and three times higher among autistic women compared to women without ASD.

It has been previously reported that autistic persons are at higher risk for illnesses than the general population; these findings suggest that this greater risk extends to mortality outcome from a hospital stay.

The analysis was controlled for potential confounders that affect mortality, including socioeconomic factors and the presence of co-occurring physical or psychiatric illness.

The study used a nationwide inpatient sample, and compared a very large number of autistic persons – 34,237, compared to 102,711 controls.

The precise source of the greater risk remains to be determined since factors that could moderate the increased risk of death, which were not measured, need to be considered. Such factors include lower quality of hospital care for autistic patients as well as the fact that the autistic persons are likely to present to the hospital in more severe states than do non-autistic persons, a condition that applies particularly for autistic women for whom autism is usually recognized at older years. Both of those potentially moderating conditions could increase risk of death, independently of the autism itself.

Importantly, these findings imply the need for more careful and aggressive health care and monitoring of persons with autism, some of whom may be unable to adequately and correctly express their medical symptoms, and improved efforts towards early detection of autism and other health symptoms in order that needed treatment is delivered in timely manner rather than delayed.

Reference: Akobirshoev I, et al. Autism. 2019 “In-hospital mortality among adults with autism spectrum disorder in the United States: A retrospective analysis of US hospital discharge data”

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