Prevalence of Pain Higher in Children With Autism

Association more pronounced among children with autism plus developmental comorbidities

autistic boy

MONDAY, Oct. 28, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have an elevated prevalence of pain compared with children without ASD, according to a research letter published online Oct. 28 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Daniel G. Whitney, Ph.D., and Danielle N. Shapiro, Ph.D., both from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, used data from the 2016 to 2017 National Survey of Children's Health to estimate the prevalence of pain (repeated or chronic physical pain in the previous 12 months) among children and adolescents with ASD.

The researchers found that the prevalence of pain was 8.2 percent for children without ASD, 15.6 percent for children with ASD, and 19.9 percent for children with ASD plus at least one developmental comorbidity. In an unadjusted analysis, the odds of pain were higher for children with ASD (odds ratio [OR], 2.08) and ASD plus at least one developmental comorbidity (OR, 2.80), compared with children without ASD. When adjusting for age, sex, race, and household poverty status, the odds of pain increased for children with ASD (OR, 2.19) and ASD plus at least one developmental comorbidity (OR, 2.96).

"Study findings suggest the need for improved awareness and modalities for pain assessment as well as incorporating pain management as part of regular therapy for children with ASD," the authors write.

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