Comorbidities Are Common in Autistic Children
Finn, Robert, Clinical Psychiatry News
SAN FRANCISCO -- Data from a large national survey document very high levels of comorbidity among children with autism, James G. Gurney, Ph.D., reported at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies.
Compared with children aged 3-17 years without autism, those with autism are 21 times more likely to be in poor health; are about 40 times more likely to be receiving speech therapy, behavioral treatment, or counseling; and are 11 times more likely to be using long-term medication, he said.
"Children with autism present with unusually complex emotional, behavioral, and medical needs," said Dr. Gurney of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. "Generalists may need to coordinate care among a variety of subspecialty consultants and service providers. And given the increasing prevalence of autism, pediatricians may find that they have to confront this type of situation much more than they used to."
Dr. Gurney and his colleagues used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Survey of Children's Health, a cross-sectional, population-based sample from 2003-2004 of more than 100,000 parents. Extrapolated to the entire U.S. population with stratified weighted sampling fractions, the investigators estimated the prevalence of autism at 53 per 100,000 children, an estimated total of 324,000 children nationwide.
In general, parents of children with autism judged their child's health to be significantly worse than did parents of children without autism. Parents judged 3.5% of their children with autism to be in poor health and 7. …