HealthDay News — Older adults with autism have increased risk of age-related physical conditions and injuries, according to a study published online June 6 in The Lancet Healthy Longevity.
Shengxin Liu, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues conducted a retrospective, population-based cohort study of the Swedish population born between Jan. 1, 1932, and Dec. 31, 1967, to examine the association between autism and physical health conditions in older adults. Patients were followed starting at age 45 years, until emigration, death, or Dec. 31, 2013. Overall, 5,291 (0.1 percent) of 4,200,887 older adults in the study cohort had a diagnosis of autism.
The researchers found that the cumulative incidence and hazard ratios of several physical conditions and injuries was higher for older adults with autism compared to their counterparts without autism. The highest cumulative incidence was seen for bodily injuries in adults with autism (50.0 percent). Adults with autism had increased risk of heart failure, cystitis, glucose dysregulation, iron deficiency anemia, poisoning, and self-harm compared to those without autism (hazard ratios, 1.89, 2.03, 2.96, 3.12, 4.63, and 7.08, respectively). Irrespective of intellectual disability or sex, these increased risks persisted.
“Our findings highlight the urgent need to understand the underlying reasons for these health burdens, design targeted screening and intervention programs, and promote older care to enhance quality of life for older autistic people,” the authors write.
One author disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.