Estimating life expectancy and years of life lost for autistic people in the UK
Synopsis: A new study confirms that autistic people experience reduced life expectancy; however, years of life lost may not be as high as previously claimed. The researchers found that autistic men without learning disabilities had an estimated average life expectancy of 74.6 years, and autistic women without learning disabilities about 76.8 years. Meanwhile, the estimated life expectancy for people diagnosed with autism and learning disabilities was around 71.7 years for men and 69.6 years for women.
“Estimating life expectancy and years of life lost for autistic people in the UK: a matched cohort study” – The Lancet Regional Health – Europe.
The research, published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe, is the first to estimate the life expectancy and years of life lost for autistic people living in the UK. The team used anonymised data from GP surgeries across the UK to study people who received a diagnosis of autism between 1989 and 2019. They studied 17,130 people diagnosed with autism without a learning disability and 6,450 participants diagnosed with autism. with learning disabilities. They then compared these groups to people of the same age and sex, who had not been diagnosed as autistic.
The researchers found that autistic men without learning disabilities had an estimated average life expectancy of 74.6 years, and autistic women without learning disabilities about 76.8 years.
Meanwhile, the estimated life expectancy for people diagnosed with autism and learning disabilities was around 71.7 years for men and 69.6 years for women.
These figures compare with the usual life expectancy of around 80 years for men and around 83 years for women living in the UK.
The findings provide the first evidence that people diagnosed with autism were more likely to die prematurely in the UK during the period studied, indicating an urgent need to address inequalities that disproportionately affect autistic people.
However, the new estimates also suggest that the widely held statistic that autistic people live 16 years less on average is probably incorrect.
The study’s lead researcher, Professor Josh Stott (UCL Psychology and Language Sciences), said:
“As far as we know, autism itself does not directly reduce life expectancy, but we know that autistic people experience health inequalities, meaning they often do not receive the support and help they need when they need it. We wanted to explore Yes This affected the average life expectancy of people diagnosed with autism living in the UK.”
“Our findings show that some autistic people died prematurely, affecting overall life expectancy. However, we know that when they have the right support, many autistic people live long, healthy and happy lives. Although our findings show important inequalities, “We are concerned by the alarming statistics often cited and it is important to provide more realistic information.”
“We need to find out why some autistic people die prematurely so we can identify ways to prevent this from happening.”
Autistic people have differences in their communication and social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests and activities.
Many autistic people require adjustments to be made to ensure equal access to healthcare, employment and support from local authorities.
Some autistic people also have learning disabilities and may find it difficult to explain to others when they feel pain or discomfort. This can mean that health problems go unnoticed.
There are numerous reports of social exclusion, difficulties accessing support and inadequate care, as outlined in Baroness Hollins’ report published in early November.
Joint lead author Dr Elizabeth O’Nions (UCL Psychology and Language Sciences) said:
“Autistic people are rightly pushing harder for recognition that autism reflects a natural and expected variation in brain functioning, and that society must make room for everyone.
“This means that services must be inclusive and tailored to those who have particular support needs by adapting the way they operate.”
“We believe the findings of this study reflect inequalities that disproportionately affect autistic people.”
Researchers previously published a study that found the actual number of autistic people in England may be more than double the number often cited in national health policy documents.
Consequently, they acknowledge that the new research may overestimate the reduced life expectancy experienced by autistic people on average.
Professor Stott said:
“Very few autistic adults have been diagnosed, meaning this study only focuses on a fraction of the total autistic population.”
“Those who are diagnosed may be those with greater support needs and more co-occurring health conditions than autistic people on average.”
“We believe this is particularly the case for women diagnosed with autism and learning disabilities: the greater reduction in life expectancy may reflect disproportionate underdiagnosis of autism and/or learning disabilities in women.”
“Not all autistic people are likely to experience a reduced life expectancy; in fact, some autistic people may be better than average at following healthy routines, potentially increasing their life expectancy.”
Dr Judith Brown, head of evidence and research at the National Autism Society, said:
“This is very important research led by University College London and we are grateful to have been able to contribute.”
“While the results of this study suggest a smaller difference than previously believed between the life expectancy of autistic and non-autistic people, they remain significant. These findings demonstrate that autistic people continue to face unacceptable inequalities due to a lack of understanding, barriers to vital services and inadequate care, leading to worse physical and mental health outcomes.”
“Without investment, better understanding, inclusion and the right level of support and care, autistic people will continue to see reduced life expectancy, with the highest risk group in this study being autistic women with learning disabilities. This research should be “an awakening We call on the government, the NHS, healthcare professionals and society as a whole to tackle the health inequality faced by autistic people.”
The research was funded by Dunhill Medical Trust, the Medical Research Council, the National Institute of Health and Care Research and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
This peer-reviewed article related to our Autism Facts section was selected for publication by Disabled World editors because of its likely interest to our readers in the disability community. Although content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article “Research into premature mortality among autistic people in the UK” It was originally written by University College London and published by Disabled-World.com on 11/25/2023. If you require further information or clarification, you can contact University College London at ucl.ac.uk. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.
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Cite this page (APA): University College London. (2023, November 25). Research into premature mortality among autistic people in the UK. Disabled world. Retrieved November 27, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/health/neurology/autism/uk-mortality.php
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