Individuals with autism spectrum disorder may be at an increased risk for depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety diagnoses than those without ASD, according to results of a population-based cohort study published in JAMA Pediatrics.
“The general finding that individuals with autism may be at risk for mood and anxiety problems was not unexpected given my clinical experiences with this population and past research; however, the magnitude of that risk revealed just how critical tailored and targeted assessment and intervention for mental health challenges are in this community,” Alexandra C. Kirsch, PhD, of the department of psychiatry and psychology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told Healio Psychiatry.
The researchers analyzed data from a population-based birth cohort of 31,220 children born in a Minnesota county between 1976 and 2000. The study included 1,014 patients with ASD (73.7% male, 89% white) and 2,028 referents (73.7% male, 87.8% white). The median age at last follow-up was 22.8 years for patients with ASD and 22.4 years for referents.
Kirsch and colleagues found that patients with ASD were significantly more likely than referents to have clinically diagnosed bipolar disorder (HR = 9.34; 95% CI, 4.57-19.06), depression (HR = 2.81; 95% CI, 2.45-3.22) and anxiety (HR = 3.45; 95% CI, 2.96-4.01). Estimates of cumulative incidence among individuals with ASD by age 30 years were 7.3% for bipolar disorder, 54.1% for depression and 50% for anxiety, compared with 0.9% for bipolar disorder, 28.9% for depression and 22.2% for anxiety among referents.
“These findings support early, ongoing surveillance for psychiatric comorbidities in the population with ASD because identifying comorbidities may guide intervention and improve quality of life for individuals with ASD,” the researchers wrote. – by Joe Gramigna
Disclosures: Kirsch reports grants from the NIH and the Public Health Service. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.