In one of the largest and most comprehensive studies of autism in adults to date, researchers have found that autistic adults tend to share of the same health conditions as they age.  

The study found that autistic adults are much more likely than others to suffer from depression, high blood pressure, and obesity.  They are also much less likely than non-autistic peers their age to drink or smoke - which is interesting as these are two factors that often play a role in the development of other health issues. This could mean that genetics are more likely to drive the illnesses that disproportionately affect autistic adults.

The study, conducted by researchers at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, compared the medical records for 2,100 adults with autism spectrum disorder with 21,000 adults who were not on the spectrum.  They found that 33 percent of autistic adults suffered from depression compared with 17 percent of non-autistic adults.  The rates of high blood pressure and cholesterol for adults with autism were 27 and 26 percent, respectively; compared with rates of 19 and 18 percent for adults without autism.  And 27 percent of autistic adults were diagnosed with obesity compared with 16 percent for their non-autistic peers.

The study highlights the fact that while many health care experts focus on behavioral treatment for autism, there are other factors and health conditions that need to be considered as well.

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