WEDNESDAY, Nov. 2, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Autistic young adults, particularly women, have high mental health needs, according to a study published online Oct. 26 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Miriam I. Martini, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues examined sex differences in psychiatric diagnoses and hospitalizations among autistic versus nonautistic young adults. The analysis included 1.33 million individuals (48.7 percent female; 20,841 with autism), who were followed from age 16 through 24 years.

The researchers found that for most disorders, autistic female individuals had a higher risk for psychiatric diagnoses and hospitalizations. For any psychiatric disorder, statistically significant standardized risk differences were observed between autistic female and male individuals, particularly for anxiety, depressive, and sleep disorders. Autistic female individuals (hazard ratio range, 3.17 to 20.78) and male individuals (hazard ratio range, 2.98 to 18.52) were both at increased risk for all psychiatric diagnoses compared with nonautistic same-sex individuals. Autistic female individuals had more psychiatric hospitalizations versus autistic male individuals, but both autistic female and male individuals had a higher relative risk for psychiatric hospitalization versus nonautistic female and male individuals for all disorders (female individuals: hazard ratio range, 5.55 to 26.30; male individuals: hazard ratio range, 3.79 to 29.36).

“These findings highlight the need for profound mental health services among autistic young adults,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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