Are IBD and Other Comorbidities More Prevalent in Patients with Autism?

Incidences of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have grown in patients also suffering from autism spectrum disorders (ASD), a neurocognitive disorder characterized by an impaired ability to communicate and interact.

Incidences of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have grown in patients also suffering from autism spectrum disorders (ASD), a neurocognitive disorder characterized by an impaired ability to communicate and interact.

In a recently published paper in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases researchers suggested ADS could also be a risk factor for IBD development.

For their study, the researchers analyzed IBD rates among patients both with and without ASD between 2009 and 2013. The team used four different study populations: Aetna database, Boston Children’s Hospital, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and the North American ASD registry — Simons Simplex Consortium.

The IBD rates — establish through International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification – were compared with respective controls.

According to the authors, “Expert-verified rates of IBD among patients with ASD were 7 of 2728 patients in one study population and 16 of 7201 in a second study population. The age-adjusted prevalence of IBD among patients with ASD was higher than their respective controls and nationally reported rates of pediatric IBD.”

After additional analyses comparing data verified by nationally reported pediatric IBD rates, the results suggested there was, in fact, a significant increase in IBD rate among patients suffering from ASD. Experts advise these patients to be further monitored by proper diagnostic methods.

A previous study that looked at the prevalence of comorbidities in more than 14,000 patients under the age of 35 with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) also found that IBD and other conditions are more common in patients with ASD.

The authors reported that 0.83% of patients with ASD had inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) vs. 0.54% of the overall hospital population (95% CI 0.13-0.43%). IBD prevalence increased significantly when comparing patients ages 0-17 vs. 18-34: 0.68% vs. 1.99% (p<0.001).

The authors concluded that “the comorbidities of ASD encompass disease states that are significantly overrepresented in ASD with respect to even the patient populations of tertiary health centers. This burden of comorbidities goes well beyond those routinely managed in developmental medicine centers and requires broad multidisciplinary management that payors and providers will have to plan for.”