HealthDay News — According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, individuals with autism have an increased risk of death from injury, with suffocation, asphyxiation and drowning identified as the leading causes of injury mortality.

Joseph Guan and Guohua Li, MD, DrPH., from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, calculated proportionate mortality ratios (PMRs) for individuals with a diagnosis of autism who died between 1999 and 2014. 

Data on causes of death were reviewed in the multiple cause-of-death data files of the National Vital Statistics System.

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The researchers note that there were 1367 deaths among individuals with autism during the study period. The mean age at death was 36.2 years among individuals with autism compared with 72.0 years for the general population. 

Overall, 381 deaths in individuals with autism were attributed to injury (PMR, 2.93), with the leading causes of injury mortality being suffocation (PMR, 31.93), asphyxiation (PMR, 13.50), and drowning (PMR, 39.89).

“Individuals with autism appear to be at substantially heightened risk for death from injury,” the authors write.


Guan J and Li G. “Injury Mortality In Individuals With Autism”. American Journal of Public Health. 2017. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.303696 [Epub ahead of print]

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