People with autism are more than twice as likely as their peers in the general population to die prematurely1. The finding, published 5 November in the British Journal of Psychiatry, adds to evidence suggesting that gaps in preventive care can cause serious health problems in people with autism.
Previous studies have hinted at premature death among people with autism, but most of them explored mortality risk in small populations and focused on specific causes of death, such as accidental injury or epilepsy. The new study relies on data from more than 27,000 people with autism and 2.7 million controls from the Swedish population. The researchers found that autism increases mortality risk regardless of the underlying cause of death.
“We observed this increased risk of death in all categories that we could analyze — we don’t really know why,” says lead researcher Tatja Hirvikoski, a neurodevelopmental researcher at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. “It might be that there are shortcomings in healthcare, and we need to increase knowledge of autism in the health services we provide.” […]
By Ann Griswold
“Suicide is the only cause of death that is more common among individuals with mild autism than those with severe autism. The risk of suicide in individuals with mild autism is about 10 times higher than in the general population. Women with autism are more likely than men on the spectrum to commit suicide.“