Health conditions in children


This study investigated comorbid conditions in a whole-country population of children/young people aged 0-24 with and without autism. Data were drawn from Scotland’s Census 2011.


We calculated the percentage with autism, their extent of comorbid conditions, odds ratios (OR; with 95% confidence intervals) of autism predicting comorbidities, adjusted for age and gender, and OR for age and gender predicting comorbidities within the cohort with autism.


25,063/1,548,819 (1.6%) had autism; 19,880 (79.3%) males and 5,183 (20.7%) females. Autism had an OR=5.4 (5.1-5.6) for predicting deafness/partial hearing loss, OR=8.9 (8.1-9.7) for blindness/partial sight loss, OR=49.7 (38.1-64.9) for intellectual disabilities, OR=15.7 (13.4-18.5) for mental health conditions, OR=15.8 (14.1-17.8) for physical disability, and OR=3.9 (3.8-4.0) for other conditions. Females with autism were more likely to have each additional condition than males, including intellectual disabilities, suggesting they may have more severe autism than males, and adding evidence that autism may be currently underdiagnosed in more intellectually-able females.


These conditions are disabling, and significantly impact upon longer-term quality of life; their coexistence with autism adds extra complexity. It is important to raise clinicians’ awareness of this extent of comorbidity, and to have accurate prevalence data to plan prevention and intervention measures, and to follow health inequality trends.

For further information on this project please contact Ewelina Rydzewska

Page updated 03 August 2018