Mortality in 787,666 school pupils with and without autism: a cohort study

Smith, G. S., Fleming, M. , Kinnear, D. , Henderson, A. , Pell, J. P. , Melville, C. and Cooper, S.-A. (2021) Mortality in 787,666 school pupils with and without autism: a cohort study. Autism, 25(1), pp. 300-304. (doi: 10.1177/1362361320944037) (PMID:32830516) (PMCID:PMC7812511)

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Abstract

Studies on children and adults combined suggest higher mortality rates for autistic than other people, but few report mortality rates for autistic children. In addition, past studies may not be representative of the current generation of children diagnosed with autism. We examined mortality in children using data from Scotland’s annual pupil census, linked to National Records of Scotland deaths register, between 2008 and 2015. In total, 9754 (1.2%) of 787,666 pupils had autism. They were more likely to live in neighbourhoods of greater deprivation and receive free school meals. Six autistic pupils died; crude mortality rate 15.8/100,000 person-years (95% CI = 7.1–35.1), compared with 458 other pupils; crude mortality rate 12.5/100,000 person-years (95% CI = 11.4–13.7). The indirectly standardised mortality ratio was 1.1 (95% CI = 0.5–2.5). In the autistic pupils, the most common causes of death were nervous system diseases, for example, epilepsy. Avoidable causes were common. In the comparison group, external causes and cancers were the most common causes of death. We cautiously conclude that mortality in the current generation of autistic children is no higher than for other children, perhaps due to recent widening of criteria for autism spectrum diagnosis, but some deaths could have been avoided by better care.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pell, Professor Jill and Fleming, Dr Michael and Smith, Mrs Gillian and Henderson, Mrs Angela and Kinnear, Dr Deborah and Cooper, Professor Sally-Ann and Melville, Professor Craig
Authors: Smith, G. S., Fleming, M., Kinnear, D., Henderson, A., Pell, J. P., Melville, C., and Cooper, S.-A.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:Autism
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN:1362-3613
ISSN (Online):1461-7005
Published Online:24 August 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Autism 25(1): 300-304
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
302957Mental Health Data PathfinderDaniel SmithMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_PC_17217HW - Mental Health and Wellbeing