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Am J Intellect Dev Disabil. 2011 Sep;116(5):371-80. doi: 10.1352/1944-7558-116.5.371.

Chronic disease risks in young adults with autism spectrum disorder: forewarned is forearmed.

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  • 1Case Western Reserve University, OH, USA.


An emerging, cost-effective method to examine prevalent and future health risks of persons with disabilities is electronic health record (EHR) analysis. As an example, a case-control EHR analysis of adults with autism spectrum disorder receiving primary care through the Cleveland Clinic from 2005 to 2008 identified 108 adults with autism spectrum disorder. In this cohort, rates of chronic disease included 34.9% for obesity, 31.5% for hyperlipidemia, and 19.4% for hypertension. Compared with a control cohort of patients from the same health system matched for age, sex, race, and health insurance status, adults with autism spectrum disorder were more likely to be diagnosed with hyperlipidemia (odds ratio  =  2.0, confidence interval  =  1.2-3.4, p  =  .012). Without intervention, adults with autism spectrum disorder appear to be at significant risk for developing diabetes, coronary heart disease, and cancer by midlife.

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