Aims: To investigate if certain physical health conditions are more common in autistic people. This project takes both a comprehensive approach (surveying all physical health conditions) and a hypothesis-driven approach (testing if sex hormone-associated medical conditions are more common in autism, given that sex hormones are elevated prenatally in autism).
Background: There are still very few studies that have examined physical health in autism, and this research is needed in order to understand medical vulnerabilities in autistic people as well as to provide insight into biological pathways that are implicated in the aetiology of autism.
Methods: This project is using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) that contains National Health Service (NHS) records of tens of thousands of patients in the UK, as well as other national databases and survey methods.
Results: These will appear on the ARC website when they are available.
Importance: If we find that autistic people are more likely to develop certain medical conditions, this may be justification for early screening of those conditions in autistic people. An example from our past work is that polycystic ovary syndrome was found – using CPRD – to be more common in autistic women, which family physicians, GPs and gynaecologists may need to take into account when caring for autistic people’s health.
Relevance: This project is relevant to medical doctors, medical researchers, and to autistic people and their families.
Funding: The Autism Research Trust, the Rosetrees Trust, NIHR-ARC East of England, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.