Autism linked with almost 3-fold increased risk of depression


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • Univadis Medical News
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People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are over three-times more likely to develop depression compared to the general public, according to new research published on JAMA Network Open.

The population-based cohort study and nested sibling comparison used data related to children and young people (0-17 years) in the Swedish Stockholm Youth Cohort. Of 223,842 individuals followed up to age 27 years by 2011, 2,927 had ASD without intellectual disability, 1,146 had ASD with intellectual disability and 219,769 had no ASD.

By age 27 years, 19.8 per cent of individuals diagnosed with ASD had a diagnosis of depression compared with 6.0 per cent of the general population (adjusted relative risk [RR] 3.64; 95% CI 3.41-3.88). The risk of depression diagnosis was higher in ASD without intellectual disability (adjusted RR 4.28; 95% CI 4.00-4.58) than in ASD with intellectual disability (adjusted RR 1.81; 95% CI 1.51-2.17).

Non-autistic full-siblings (adjusted RR 1.37; 95% CI 1.23-1.53) and half-siblings (adjusted RR 1.42; 95% CI 1.23-1.64) of individuals with ASD also had a higher risk of depression than the general population. The likelihood of depression diagnosis in young adulthood was more than two-fold higher in individuals with ASD compared with non-autistic full-siblings (adjusted odds ratio 2.50; 95% CI 1.91-3.27).