A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

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

Summer, 2019 | Number 3, Volume 33

Risk of death in hospital higher for adults with ASD

Adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are more likely than their neurotypical peers to die during a hospital stay, according to a new study. 

Ilhom Akobirshoev and colleagues examined the records of more than 34,000 adults with ASD and more than 102,000 age- and sex-matched controls, using data from the 2004-2014 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample. The researchers report that adults with ASD were 44% more likely than controls to die during a hospital stay. The risk was greatest for women with ASD, who were more than three times as likely as non-ASD female controls to die in the hospital. 

Adults with ASD who died during hospital stays were more likely to have comorbid disorders such as psychoses, other neurological disorders, diabetes, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis/collagen vascular disease, obesity, weight loss, fluid and electrolyte disorders, deficiency anemias, and paralysis. Surprisingly, the researchers found no elevated risk of in-hospital mortality due to epilepsy in either the ASD group or the controls. 

The researchers conclude, “Given our study findings, there is a critical need to improve health care, public health, and social support service interventions and strategies to reduce in-hospital deaths among people with ASD and address medical comorbidities that can potentially be linked to in-hospital deaths. Namely, management and optimization of the most prevalent medical comorbidities that are associated with in-hospital mortality among people with ASD, including psychoses, neurological disorders, and others, should be a priority focus of strategies for improving health care, preventive interventions, and training efforts.”


“In-hospital mortality among adults with autism spectrum disorder in the United States: a retrospective analysis of US hospital discharge data,” Ilhom Akobirshoev, Monika Mitra, Robbie Dembo, and Emily Lauer, Autism, June 12, 2019 (epub prior to print publication). Adress: Ilhom Akobirshoev, Brandeis University, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA 02453, [email protected].