A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

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

Summer, 2021 | Number 3, Volume 35

Study finds early-onset dementia risk is elevated in individuals with ASD

Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have a significantly elevated risk of being diagnosed with early-onset dementia, according to a new study.

Using Medicaid data collected from 2008 through 2012, Giacomo Vivanti and colleagues analyzed data for four groups of 30- to 64-year-old adults: those who had a diagnosis of ASD only, those who had a diagnosis of ASD with co-occurring intellectual disability (ID), those who had a diagnosis of ID without ASD, and those with no ASD or ID diagnosis. 

The researchers report, “The 5-year prevalence of dementia was 4.04% among adults with ASD only, and 5.22% for those with ASD and co-occurring ID. This prevalence was higher compared to the prevalence of dementia in individuals with no ASD and no ID (0.97%), but lower compared to individuals with ID only (7.10%).” After adjusting for variables that could affect the risk for dementia, the researchers found that “adults with ASD under the age of 65 were approximately 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia compared to the general population in our study.”


“The prevalence and incidence of early-onset dementia among adults with autism spectrum disorder,” Giacomo Vivanti, Sha Tao, Kristen Lyall, Diana L. Robins, and Lindsay L. Shea, Autism Research, August 11, 2021 (epub prior to print publication). Address: Lindsay L. Shea, A. J. Drexel Autism Institute, Drexel University, 3020 Market Street, Suite 560, Philadelphia, PA 19104, [email protected]