A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Fall, 2020 | Number 4, Volume 34

ASD, ADHD associated with more early medical visits

Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) tend to have significantly more medical visits during infancy than other children, according to a new study. 

In the study, Matthew Engelhard and colleagues analyzed 10 years of data collected from the electronic health records of nearly 30,000 patients who had at least two well-child visits before they were one year of age. The researchers found that children later diagnosed with ASD and/or ADHD tended to have longer hospital stays compared to other children. Children with ASD had higher numbers of procedures such as intubation and ventilation, as well as more outpatient visits for services such as physical therapy and eye exams. Children with ADHD had more procedures and more hospital admissions and emergency department visits. 

Engelhard says, “This study provides evidence that children who develop autism and ADHD are on a different path from the beginning.” He notes that identifying patterns of healthcare utilization could aid clinicians in spotting children at risk for these disorders.


“Health system utilization before age 1 among children later diagnosed with autism or ADHD,” Matthew M. Engelhard, Samuel I. Berchuck, Jyotsna Garg, Ricardo Henao, Andrew Olson, Shelley Rusincovitch, Geraldine Dawson, and Scott H. Kollins, Nature Scientific Reports, October 2020 (free online). Addresss: Matthew Engelhard, [email protected]


“Children with autism, ADHD have more doctor and hospital visits during infancy,” news release, Duke University Medical Center, October 19, 2020.