Co-occurring conditions and racial-ethnic disparities: Medicaid enrolled adults on the autism spectrum

This article was originally published here

Autism Res. 2021 Dec 2. doi: 10.1002/aur.2644. Online ahead of print.


Evidence suggests that autistic adults have higher odds of developing several co-occurring conditions, but less is known about disparities by race and ethnicity in this population. Using 2008-2012 Medicaid Analytic eXtract (MAX) data, we (i) identify the prevalence of co-occurring conditions among the population of autistic adult Medicaid beneficiaries compared to a matched sample of those without an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis, (ii) conduct logistic regression to estimate odds ratios for these health conditions predicted by an autism diagnosis, and (iii) estimate odds of having these health conditions as predicted by racial/ethnic group among the autistic population only. Overall, autistic adults did not have higher prevalence of some major health conditions (cardiovascular conditions, stroke, cancer, cardiovascular disease), but they did have higher odds of others (nutrition conditions, epilepsy, disorders of the central nervous system). Analysis by racial/ethnic group, however, shows that Black, Hispanic, and Asian autistic beneficiaries had higher odds of diabetes, hospitalized cardiovascular diseases, and hypertension, among other conditions. Policymakers should be aware that racial disparities found in the general population persist in the autistic population and should work to implement systems and programs to improve screening and preventive care for minority autistic populations. LAY SUMMARY: Autistic adults may have several co-occurring physical and mental health conditions, which could differ by racial/ethnic group. We find that, compared to the general Medicaid population, autistic adult Medicaid beneficiaries have elevated odds of some health conditions, like epilepsy and nutrition conditions, as well as some psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety and attention disorders. We also find that many of the same health disparities by racial/ethnic group in the general population persist among the autistic adult Medicaid population. For example, Black, Hispanic, and Asian Medicaid autistic beneficiaries have higher odds of diabetes, and Black and Hispanic autistic beneficiaries have higher odds of obesity and nutrition conditions than white autistic beneficiaries.

PMID:34854249 | DOI:10.1002/aur.2644