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Medical and behavioral correlates of depression history in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder

TitleMedical and behavioral correlates of depression history in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsGreenlee, JL, Mosley, AS, Shui, AM, Veenstra-VanderWeele, J, Gotham, KO

Lead Author
Jessica L. Greenlee

Study Aims and Objectives
To study the prevalence of depression diagnosis in a large sample of children and adolescent with autism spectrum disorder as reported by their parents. The study also aims to identify medical and behavioral problems associated with depression history.

Methods- Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
Data were gathered from 1272 children on the Autism Treatment Network registry between the ages of 6 and 17 who met the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Of these, 15.4% of participants were female and 83.8% identified as Caucasian. Parents were asked to report on factors relating to the physical, mental, and behavioral health of their child through several surveys. Children were tested for cognitive functioning using the abbreviated Stanford-Binet.

Results- Main Findings Of the 1272 children in the study, 89 (7%) were found to have a history of depression, which comprised nearly 5% of children aged 6-12 but 20% of adolescents aged 13-17. As expected, older children with a higher IQ and a less severe manifestation of ASD were more likely to report depression. Rates of reported seizures and gastrointestinal (GI) problems were significantly higher for those with a history of depression. There was no significant difference in report behavioral problems or sensory complaints between those with a history of depression and those without one.

Conclusion- Summary Statement
Co-occurring depression appears to be particularly problematic in older and more cognitively able children on the autism spectrum. Children with an ASD diagnosis are at a higher risk for several health issues, including sleep, GI, and seizure problems. These health issues may increase or be exacerbated by depression in this population, with future research needed to understand the direction and strength of these relationships.

PubMed ID26908466