General health status of children


Reported childhood prevalence of autism varies considerably between studies and over time, and general health status has been little investigated. We aimed to investigate contemporary prevalence of reported autism by age, and general health status of children/young people with and without autism.


Using whole country data from Scotland’s Census, 2011, we calculated number (%) of children/young people reported to have autism by age and gender, and compared populations with and without autism reporting very good, good, fair, bad, and very bad health. We used logistic regressions to calculate odds ratios (OR) of autism predicting poor health, adjusted for age and gender, and ORs of age and gender predicting poor health within the population with autism.


Autism was reported for 17,348/916,331 (1.9%) children aged 0-15, and 7,715/632,488 (1.2%) young people aged 16-24. The rate increased to age 11 in boys and age 10 in girls, reflecting age at diagnosis. Prevalence was 2.8% at age 10 (4.4% for boys; 1.1% for girls), and 2.9% at age 11 (4.5% for boys; 1.1% for girls).  22.0% of children and 25.5% of young people with autism reported poor general health, compared with 2.0% and 4.4% without autism. Autism had OR=11.3 (11.0-11.7) in predicting poor health. Autistic females had poorer health than autistic males; OR=1.6 (1.5-1.7).


Accurate information on the proportion of autistic children and their health status, is essential to accurately plan appropriate prevention and intervention measures and provide resources for those who may put demand upon services designed for autistic people.

For further information on this project please contact Ewelina Rydzewska

Page updated 03 August 2018