By Teresa Conrick
Individuals with Autism at Substantially Heightened Risk for Injury Death. That was all over the news just this past March.
Deaths in individuals with autism increased 700 percent in the past 16 years and were three times as likely as in the general population to be caused by injuries,......The average age at death for individuals with autism was 36 years younger than for the general population, 36 years of age compared with 72. Of the deaths in individuals with autism, 28 percent were attributed to injury, most often by suffocation, followed by asphyxiation, and drowning. Together, these three causes accounted for nearly 80 percent of the total injury mortality in children with autism. More than 40 percent occurred in homes or residential institutions.
...Our analysis reveals that children with autism are 160 times as likely to die from drowning as the general pediatric population.
Those are external tragedies - accidents - horrific and on the increase. Let' s also take a look at any changes over the years with the medical issues that shorten the lives of individuals diagnosed with Autism:
A recent meta-analysis of 23 studies found a pooled prevalence of epilepsy of 21.5% (2150 ⁄ 10 000) among participants with autism and intellectual disability compared with 8% (800 ⁄ 10 000) among participants with autism but without intellectual disability.6 Being female also increased the risk of having epilepsy.
The expected number of deaths is two to three times higher in populations with autism spectrum disorder than in the general population
Risk factors identified for increased risk of mortality in the participant studies were moderate to profound intellectual disability, having epilepsy, and female sex.
However, as for other chronic diseases, and for the population generally, the absolute risk of death for people with autism will increase as they age into middle adulthood and beyond.
Epilepsy accounted for only 7% to 30% of the deaths; a wide range of other conditions were also found to cause death, including circulatory, malignancy, and respiratory conditions, and external causes including drowning, motor vehicle accidents, and suffocation played a role.
The challenge for clinicians, parents ⁄ carers, and individuals with ASD is how to sensibly use this evidence that people with ASD are at an increased risk of having epilepsy or dying relative to comparison individuals without ASD. We would argue that this information alerts us to the need for health promotion and regular health surveillance of individuals with ASD,especially as children and adolescents with ASD transition into adulthood.