According to a recent study published in Pediatrics today, Children with both autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit or hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at increased risk for being diagnosed with or treated for anxiety and mood disorders.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a range of similar conditions, including Asperger syndrome, that affect a person's social interaction, communication, interests and behavior.
Researchers from Kennedy Krieger Institute at the United States surveyed the data of a cross-sectional, network-based survey of 3,319 children ages 6 to 17 years with ASD who were enrolled in the Interactive Autism Network (IAN), between 2006 and 2013.
Of the total children, 45.3 percent (1,503 children) were suffering from ADHD. The examined data was further analyzed for parent-reported diagnosis of ADHD, anxiety disorder, and mood disorders. Children with ASD and ADHD had more than twice (or 2.2 times) the risk of anxiety disorder and 2.7 times the risk of other mood disorders. Researchers also found that these psychiatric conditions were more widespread in older children.
Eliza Gordon-Lipkin, lead author of the research fellow, Department of Neurology and Developmental Medicine, Kennedy Krieger Institute told, "We have known that anxiety and mood disorders are highly prevalent in those with ASD, this study, however, takes it another step further, providing insights on the differences between children with just ASD versus those with ASD and ADHD. What exactly happens in the human brain that causes children with ASD to have other mental health conditions is not fully understood, but we hope this study inspires other researchers to pursue the answer to this question."
According to WHO, 1 in 160 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASDs begin in childhood and tend to persist into adolescence and adulthood.
While some people with ASD can live independently, others have severe disabilities and require life-long care and support.
"The takeaway from the study's findings, and one that both parents of children with ASD and doctors need to keep in mind, is that managing these psychiatric disorders is a dual effort. That by working closely together in monitoring a child for anxiety and mood symptoms, we can ensure early diagnosis and treatment, which is key to preserving a child's quality of life.," said Paul H. Lipkin, director of Medical Informatics and the Interactive Autism Network at Kennedy Krieger Institute.
Intervention during early childhood is important to promote the optimal development and well-being of people with an ASD. Monitoring of child development as part of routine maternal and child health care is recommended.
People with ASD require accessible health services for general health-care needs like the rest of the population, including promotive and preventive services and treatment of acute and chronic illness, according to the WHO.