Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 352-357

Mortality in Autism: A Prospective Longitudinal Community-Based Study

  • Christopher GillbergAffiliated withInstitute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Queen Silvia’s Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Gothenburg UniversityInstitute of Child Health, University College Email author 
  • , Eva BillstedtAffiliated withInstitute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Queen Silvia’s Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Gothenburg University
  • , Valter SundhAffiliated withInstitute of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine and Public Health, Gothenburg University
  • , I. Carina GillbergAffiliated withInstitute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Queen Silvia’s Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Gothenburg University

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Abstract

The purposes of the present study were to establish the mortality rate in a representative group of individuals (n = 120) born in the years 1962–1984, diagnosed with autism/atypical autism in childhood and followed up at young adult age (≥18 years of age), and examine the risk factors and causes of death. The study group, which constituted a total population sample of children with these diagnoses, were followed up in Swedish registers. Nine (7.5%) of the 120 individuals with autism had died at the time of follow-up, a rate 5.6 times higher than expected. The mortality rate was significantly higher among the females. Associated medical disorders (including epilepsy with cognitive impairment) and accidents accounted for most of the deaths, and it was not possible to determine whether autism “per se” actually carries an increased mortality risk.

Keywords

Autism Asperger syndrome Adults Mortality Epilepsy