People with autism are "dying younger," warns study


"People with autism are dying earlier than the general population," BBC News reports.

A recent study in Sweden showed the average age of death for a person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is 54 years, compared with 70 for matched controls.

The study used records of 27,122 people diagnosed with ASD to look at how long they lived, what the main causes of death were, and how their chances of death were affected by whether they were male or female and the type of autism they had.

For the purposes of the study, ASD was split into two categories: low-functioning ASD, where a person with ASD also had learning difficulties, and high-functioning ASD, where a person with ASD had average or above average intelligence.

Researchers then compared them with an age- and gender-matched sample from the general Swedish population.

The researchers found all groups of people with ASD were 2.5 times more likely to have died during the study than people without.

The highest risk seemed to be in people with low-functioning ASD – particularly women, who had almost nine times the mortality risk of women the same age without ASD.

Leading causes of death included neurological disorders such as epilepsy, which has previously been linked with ASD, and suicide. People with high-functioning ASD had a ninefold increased suicide risk.

The researchers said their study demonstrated that much more needs to be done to support both the mental and physical health of people with ASD.

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