Children with Autism Are More Likely to Be Diagnosed with Psychiatric Comorbidities

April 03, 2023

Anxiety Disorder Developed in Late Childhood Can Lead to Subsequent Psychiatric Conditions

A longitudinal follow-up study examining the mental health of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has recently been published in Journal of Affective Disorders. The authors used the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database to analyze records of 13,382 children and adolescents with ASD and 53,528 age- and sex-matched non-ASD controls between 2001 and 2009. The research followed participant records until the end of 2011. At that time, subjects who developed schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (BD), depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) were identified. The authors discovered that children and adolescents with ASD were at an increased risk of developing schizophrenia, BD, depressive disorder, and OCD than the control group. Additionally, the results showed that individuals with ASD were more likely to develop BD and depressive disorder at an earlier age. This study also discovered that for children with ASD who develop psychiatric comorbidities, anxiety disorder occurred first, usually in late childhood, with psychotic and affective disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, BD, depressive disorder) proceeding in adolescence. Compared to participants with ASD alone, the diagnosis of anxiety disorder increased the likelihood of subsequent psychiatric comorbidities. According to the authors, the early onset of anxiety disorders in ASD is this research’s  most clinically significant finding. 

Original Study

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