Article

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 1196-1204

Excess Mortality and Causes of Death in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Follow up of the 1980s Utah/UCLA Autism Epidemiologic Study

  • Deborah BilderAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of UtahNeurobehavior HOME Program Email author 
  • , Elizabeth L. BottsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Utah
  • , Ken R. SmithAffiliated withUtah Population Database, Population Sciences, Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah
  • , Richard PimentelAffiliated withUtah Population Database, Population Sciences, Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah
  • , Megan FarleyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Utah
  • , Joseph ViskochilAffiliated withDepartment of Educational Psychology, University of Utah
  • , William M. McMahonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and the Brain Institute, University of Utah
  • , Heidi BlockAffiliated withUniversity of Utah
  • , Edward RitvoAffiliated withUniversity of California, Los Angeles
    • , Riva-Ariella RitvoAffiliated withYale University School of Medicine
    • , Hilary CoonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and the Brain Institute, University of Utah

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Abstract

This study’s purpose was to investigate mortality among individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) ascertained during a 1980s statewide autism prevalence study (n = 305) in relation to controls. Twenty-nine of these individuals (9.5 %) died by the time of follow up, representing a hazard rate ratio of 9.9 (95 % CI 5.7–17.2) in relation to population controls. Death certificates identified respiratory, cardiac, and epileptic events as the most common causes of death. The elevated mortality risk associated with ASD in the study cohort appeared related to the presence of comorbid medical conditions and intellectual disability rather than ASD itself suggesting the importance of coordinated medical care for this high risk sub-population of individuals with ASD.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorders Mortality Causes of death Epilepsy Intellectual disability