Risk of Depression Up in Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Autism spectrum disorder is associated with increased risk of depression in young adulthood.
Autism spectrum disorder is associated with increased risk of depression in young adulthood.

HealthDay News — Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with increased risk of depression in young adulthood, according to a study published online Aug. 31 in JAMA Network Open.

Dheeraj Rai, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a population-based study with a nested sibling comparison to examine whether individuals with ASD are more likely to be diagnosed with depression. Data were included for 735,096 children and young people aged 0 to 17 years who were ever resident in Stockholm County, Sweden, from January 2001 to December 2011. A total of 223,842 individuals were followed up to age 27 years by 2011, of whom 4,073 had diagnosed ASD.

The researchers found that by age 27 years, 19.8 percent of individuals diagnosed with ASD had a diagnosis of depression, compared with 6.0 percent among the general population (adjusted relative risk [RR], 3.64). A higher risk of depression diagnosis was seen for ASD without versus ASD with intellectual disability (adjusted RR, 4.28 versus 1.81). Compared with the general population, non-autistic full siblings and half siblings also had increased risk of depression (adjusted RR, 1.37 and 1.42, respectively). Individuals with ASD had more than a two-fold increased risk of depression diagnosis compared with their non-autistic full siblings in young adulthood (adjusted odds ratio, 2.50).

"ASD, particularly ASD without intellectual disability, is associated with depression by young adulthood compared with the general population," the authors write.

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