Individuals with ASD Are Three Times More Likely to Develop Symptoms Associated with Parkinson’s Disease

June 10, 2024

Increased Prevalence May Be Related to Genetic Factors, Medication Side Effects, or Unidentified Aspects of Brain Health

New research involving a quarter of a million people with autism, intellectual disabilities, or both found that their risk of developing Parkinson’s-like symptoms is three times higher than in the general population. Presented at the International Society for Autism Research meeting, this study highlights the need for further investigation into the links between these conditions. The findings suggest that as individuals with autism age, they may require specialized screening and treatment for Parkinsonism–symptoms common in Parkinson’s disease. These symptoms include tremors, sudden freezing while walking and difficulty holding a posture. The study’s authors reviewed medical records from 2014 to 2016, discovering that 5.98% of individuals with autism, 6.01% of those with intellectual disabilities, and 7.31% of those with both conditions showed parkinsonism, compared to 0.11-1.85% in the general population. This increased prevalence could be influenced by genetic factors, medication side effects, or unidentified aspects of brain health. Future research should focus on the age of onset and long-term progression of Parkinsonism in these groups to better understand and address this emerging health concern.

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