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Conditions Associated with Autism

By Stacy W. Kish on September 12, 2012


Background: Co-morbidity describes a series of conditions that are associated with an initial diagnosis. In the case of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), these conditions include sleep disorders, gastrointestinal complaints, epilepsy, cranial anomalies, muscular dystrophies, and other mental disorders. A recent study by Kohane and colleagues (2012) examined these conditions in children and young adults with ASD.


What’s new: The diagnoses of ASD has increased during the past 30 years, but most studies of co-morbid symptoms only include 200 or less patients. This study examined co-morbid condition in more than 14,000 individuals 35 years of age or younger.


The research team identified the prevalence of the following conditions in ASD individuals: epilepsy (19.4%), head anomalies (12.4%), bowel disorders (11.7%), schizophrenia (2.4%), sleeping disorders (1.1%), Down syndrome (0.9%), tuberous sclerosis (0.8%), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (0.8%), autoimmune disorders (DM1) (0.7%), and fragile X syndrome (0.5%). Only three of the conditions, schizophrenia, IBD, and DM1, increased with age of individuals in this study.


Why it’s important: Parents and health care professionals can use this information to better understand co-morbid conditions associated with ASD and watch for treatable symptoms.

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