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Autism, ADHD Linked to More Doctor, Hospital Visits by Age 1

Patterns of health care use before age 1 distinctive in autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

autistic boy

MONDAY, Oct. 19, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have more doctor and hospital visits during infancy, according to a study published online Oct. 19 in Scientific Reports.

Matthew M. Engelhard, M.D., Ph.D., from the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues assessed health care utilization patterns early in life among children later diagnosed with ASD (343 patients), ADHD (1,175 patients), or both (140 patients). The analysis included 29,929 children with at least two well-child visits to a single health system before age 1 year.

The researchers found that ASD was associated with an increased number of procedures (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.5), including intubation and ventilation (aOR, 2.4), as well as an increase in outpatient specialty care, including physical therapy (aOR, 3.5) and ophthalmology (aOR, 3.1). ADHD was also associated with an increased number of procedures (aOR, 1.41), including blood transfusion (aOR, 4.7); hospital admissions (aOR, 1.60); and emergency department visits (aOR, 1.58). In children with ASD, the median length of stay was increased after birth (+6.5 hours); this was also the case for children with ADHD (+3.8 hours).

"This indicates that distinctive patterns of utilization begin early in these children's lives," Engelhard said in a statement. "This could provide an opportunity to intervene sooner."

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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