Autism spectrum disorders linked to cardiometabolic diseases

01 Feb 2023
Autism spectrum disorders linked to cardiometabolic diseases

Children with autism spectrum disorders are at increased risk of diabetes, dyslipidaaemia, and heart disease, according to a study.

A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to synthesize data from interventional studies that showed the prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors (ie, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, atherosclerotic macrovascular disease) among children and/or adults with autism vs matched participants without autism.

Researchers searched multiple online databases and included 34 studies in the meta-analysis. The studies comprised a total of 276,173 participants with autism and 7,733,306 participants without autism (mean age 31.2 years, 47 percent women).

On analysis, autism was associated with elevated risks of incident diabetes overall (relative risk [RR], 1.57, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.23–2.01; 20 studies), type 1 diabetes (RR, 1.64, 95 percent CI, 1.06–2.54; six studies), and type 2 diabetes (RR, 2.47, 95 percent CI, 1.30–4.70; three studies).

A risk increase for incident dyslipidaemia (RR, 1.69, 95 percent CI, 1.20–2.40; seven studies) and heart disease (RR, 1.46; 95 percent CI, 1.42-1.50; 3 studies) was also seen in autism.

Meanwhile, autism had no significant association with the risk of hypertension (RR, 1.22, 95 percent CI, 0.98–1.52; 12 studies) and stroke (RR, 1.19, 95 percent CI, 0.63–2.24; four studies).

Meta-regression analyses showed that the risks of diabetes and hypertension were much higher among children with autism than among their adult counterparts.

There was high heterogeneity across the studies for several meta-analyses.

The findings prompt vigilant monitoring of individuals with autism for potential contributors, signs of cardiometabolic disease, and their complications.

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