April 6, 2017 – Autism and Death


Anchor lead: People with autism experience earlier and more accidental death than others, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Did you know that people on the autism spectrum die on average at age 36? A recent study from the American Journal of Public Health links that early death risk largely to accidents. Mike Klag describes the study looking at those with an autism diagnosis among thousands of medical records.

Klag: About 1367 had that who had died. When they looked at what they died from, an amazing 28% died of injury. And this is three times the proportion that you would see in the general population. The ratio of deaths from drowning was forty times higher than the general population. Asphyxiation 13 times higher. Suffocation 32 times higher.  :22

Klag says the public health implications of this findings are clear.

Klag: We have to incorporate these facts into how we can for young people with autism and how we start programs to make parents and caregivers aware of this risk.  :10

Klag notes that specific risks, especially that from drowning, should inform everyone of the need to be vigilant on behalf of those on the autism spectrum. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.