Health Status and Health Care Use Among Adolescents Identified With and Without Autism in Early Childhood - Four U.S. Sites, 2018-2020.

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TitleHealth Status and Health Care Use Among Adolescents Identified With and Without Autism in Early Childhood - Four U.S. Sites, 2018-2020.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsPowell, PS, Pazol, K, Wiggins, LD, Daniels, JL, Dichter, GS, Bradley, CB, Pretzel, R, Kloetzer, J, McKenzie, C, Scott, A, Robinson, B, Sims, AS, Kasten, EP, M Fallin, D, Levy, SE, Dietz, PM, Cogswell, ME
JournalMMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep
Date Published2021 Apr 30
KeywordsAdolescent, Autistic Disorder, Female, Health Status, Humans, Male, Patient Acceptance of Health Care, United States

Persons identified in early childhood as having autism spectrum disorder (autism) often have co-occurring health problems that extend into adolescence (1-3). Although only limited data exist on their health and use of health care services as they transition to adolescence, emerging data suggest that a minority of these persons receive recommended guidance* from their primary care providers (PCPs) starting at age 12 years to ensure a planned transition from pediatric to adult health care (4,5). To address this gap in data, researchers analyzed preliminary data from a follow-up survey of parents and guardians of adolescents aged 12-16 years who previously participated in the Study to Explore Early Development ( The adolescents were originally studied at ages 2-5 years and identified at that age as having autism (autism group) or as general population controls (control group). Adjusted prevalence ratios (aPRs) that accounted for differences in demographic characteristics were used to compare outcomes between groups. Adolescents in the autism group were more likely than were those in the control group to have physical difficulties (21.2% versus 1.6%; aPR = 11.6; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 4.2-31.9), and to have additional mental health or other conditions (one or more condition: 63.0% versus 28.9%; aPR = 1.9; 95% CI = 1.5-2.5). Adolescents in the autism group were more likely to receive mental health services (41.8% versus 22.1%; aPR = 1.8, 95% CI = 1.3-2.6) but were also more likely to have an unmet medical or mental health service need (11.0% versus 3.2%; aPR = 3.1; 95% CI = 1.1-8.8). In both groups, a small percentage of adolescents (autism, 7.5%; control, 14.1%) received recommended health care transition (transition) guidance. These findings are consistent with previous research (4,5) indicating that few adolescents receive the recommended transition guidance and suggest that adolescents identified with autism in early childhood are more likely than adolescents in the general population to have unmet health care service needs. Improved provider training on the heath care needs of adolescents with autism and coordination of comprehensive programs to meet their needs can improve delivery of services and adherence to recommended guidance for transitioning from pediatric to adult health care.

Alternate JournalMMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep
PubMed ID33914722
PubMed Central IDPMC8084123