Children With Autism at Higher Risk of Developing Mental Health Conditions, Study Proves

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Children with autism are at higher risk of developing mental health conditions. Based on a study, almost 78 percent of them have at least one mental health condition, while nearly half suffer from two mental health conditions. 

Children with autism rank high in cases with mental health conditions

The psychology department from the University of British Columbia worked with Drexel University's (Pennsylvania) the AJ Drexel Autism Institute to study the link between the two. According to a recent study, 44.8 percent of children with autism in preschool-age have mental health conditions. 

The research team found that only 14.1 percent of the kids without autism had mental health conditions. Since 2008, it is the first study that focused on how prevalent mental health conditions are among children with autism. It shows that healthcare systems should do something about it.

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About 2.6 percent of the US population suffer from autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). People with the disorder could have a hard time interacting socially and communicate. Apart from that, they also have restricted, repetitive behavior patterns. 

Caregivers answered surveys regarding the children they care for

From the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health, the research team took a survey of over 42,000 caregivers who have a total of 1,131 ASD-diagnosed children they take care of. The children with autism reportedly have different mental health conditions based on the caregivers. 

Nearly 40 percent of them suffer from anxiety, 15.7 percent have depression, and 60.8 percent have behavior or conduct problems. Almost two percent have Tourette syndrome, and 48.4 percent have ADHD.

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As the children with autism grew older, the research team found that their subjects suffer from mental health conditions more. They noted the significance of the "44.8 percent prevalence in preschool children with ASD" because they believe that early intervention could increase mental health treatment's effectiveness. 

Children with ASD at a higher risk

The study focused on how prevalent mental health illness in children with varied conditions, such as autism, intellectual disabilities, and chronic conditions. The team found that children with autism rank higher regarding developing mental health conditions than the other groups. 

Children with autism have 6.3 times more likely to suffer from anxiety than children with intellectual disabilities. The same group is three times more prone to getting anxiety than children with special healthcare needs. 

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Lead author, Dr. Connor Kerns, said that they found something specific about autism that causes it to suffer more from mental health conditions. He noted that they are a unique population that needs special attention. 

The research team hopes that their study could raise awareness to prompt public policy changes to make more funds and treatments available for children with autism. Dr. Kerns said that it would make a big difference if they could screen and intervene with the children before going to school.

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