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Health conditions and service use of autistic women and men: a retrospective population-based case-control study

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This study used administrative data to compare the socio-demographics, health conditions, and health service use of autistic adults with adults with and without other developmental disabilities, after matching for age and sex. Autistic women and men were more likely to have a wide range of physical and mental health conditions compared to adults without developmental disabilities. Rates of co-occurring health conditions were similar or lower among autistic adults compared to adults with other developmental disabilities, except for a higher prevalence of psychiatric conditions among autistic adults. Notably increased psychiatric service use was evident among autistic women and men compared to the other groups. Among age-matched autistic women and men, significant differences were found for physical (i.e. Crohn’s disease/colitis, rheumatoid arthritis) and psychiatric conditions (i.e. psychotic disorders, non-psychotic disorders), as well as service use (i.e. emergency department visits, hospitalizations, family doctor and neurologist visits). These findings suggest autistic adults have high healthcare needs, as do adults with other developmental disabilities. Mental health support is especially critical for autistic adults and research examining sex and gender effects will assist in tailoring health promotion and intervention efforts.

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Tint A, Chung H, Lai MC, Balogh R, Lin E, Durbin A, Lunsky Y. Autism. 2023; 27(6):1641-57. Epub 2023 Jan 1.

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