Autism Tied to Widespread Physical Health Comorbidity

Comorbidities seen across all major organ systems
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

FRIDAY, Oct. 13, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- People with autism have widespread, physical health comorbidity that spans nearly all major organ systems versus adults without autism, according to a study published online Sept. 20 in Molecular Autism.

John H. Ward, M.B.B.S., from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assessed whether people with autism experience greater levels of noncommunicable health conditions and, if so, if this is explained by differences in demographics, alcohol use, smoking, body mass index (BMI), or family history of medical conditions. The analysis included survey responses from 2,305 adults with autism and without.

The researchers found significantly elevated rates of noncommunicable conditions across all organ systems in people with autism, including gastrointestinal, neurological, endocrine, visual, ear/nose/throat, skin, liver and kidney, and hematological conditions. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome was more likely to occur among women with autism versus women without autism. Additionally, there was a higher prevalence of celiac disease among individuals with autism versus those without, when controlling for sex, ethnicity, country of residence, alcohol use, smoking, and BMI. However, when adjusting for family history, results became nonsignificant.

"Health care professionals must be made aware of the range of co-occurring physical health conditions that may be more common among autistic people," the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text

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