UK Research Shows a Lower Life Expectancy for Individuals with Autism

December 04, 2023

Men and Women with ASD and a Learning Disorder Die Almost 10 Years Earlier than Those without the Disorder

A recent study published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe has found that people diagnosed with autism and a learning disability in the United Kingdom are more likely to die prematurely than those without these conditions. The study, which is the first to estimate the life expectancy of people with the disorder in Britain, highlights the urgent need to address inequalities and prevent premature death for people on the autism spectrum. The authors studied anonymized data from 1989 to 2019 of 17,130 people diagnosed with autism without a learning disability and 6,450 people diagnosed as autistic with a learning disability. The study found that men and women with autism and without a learning disability had an average life expectancy of 74.6 and 76.8 years, respectively. The study also discovered that individuals with autism and a comorbid learning disability had an even lower life expectancy of 71.7 years for men and 69.6 years for women. The average life expectancy for neurotypical individuals in the UK is 80 for men and 83 for women. While the study found autism itself does not directly reduce life expectancy, those with the disorder face health inequalities and often do not receive the necessary support and medical help they need. The team behind this research calls for further examination of the reasons behind the premature deaths of people with autism. They also point out the need for policymakers to address discrimination and adopt better medical policies for individuals with the disorder. 

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