Mental Health, Physical Disability May be Connected with Neurodevelopemental Disorders

A recent Scottish Census has found that people of all ages who have experienced any kind of mental health complications, sensory impairment including blindness or partial sight loss, deafness or partial hearing loss and physical disability might have a connection with neurodevelopmental disorders, mainly autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). The research has been published recently in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Mental disorders have become a big issue around the globe. It has been reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) that every one in four people in the world has been affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. The condition is very much in Scotland as well. According to an estimation provided by Scottish government, around one in three people are known to be affected by mental illness in any one year.

Source: Mental Health Foundation
Source: Picker Institute Europe

However, the researchers from the University of Glasgow (UOG) did a large scale, the whole country study held at The Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory. The sample has consisted of more than 5700 participants who have an underlying condition including ID, which can be defined as a significant limitation in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior. The other underlying condition was ASD which is a condition characterized by difficulty with social skills, behaviors with repetition, speech, and non- verbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control CDC, every 1 in 54 children in the US are autistic and the condition presented in 1 in 34 boys and 1 in 144  girls. Whereas, a total of 31% of autistic kids have an intellectual disability with significant challenges in daily function. The findings have been published at Autism Speaks Organization.

Source: Speech Buddies

The team did a comparison of these people with 5,289,694 people of which 66% were males and 44% were females, extracted from the Scottish Census 2011. All participants were lying under the age group of zero to 75+.

Main Question in Scottish Census Focused on Mental Health Conditions

The Scottish census involved a question that can identify if the person has any kind of mental illness such as ID and ASD as well as other mental health conditions, sensory impairment, and physical disability. The question that has been mentioned in the census is “Do you have any of the following conditions which have lasted, or are expected to last at least 12 months? Tick all that apply”.

Right after the question, the census has 10 possible responses including deafness, blindness, any learning disability for example Down’s syndrome. Other options included learning difficulty such as dyslexia, a developmental disorder such as ASD, physical disability, mental health condition, long-term illness, disease or condition; and other conditions. An empty space has been provided for the other conditions.

The government of Scotland has a rule applied for the guardian of the house who is providing information for the census. He/she has to pay a penalty of £1000 in case of providing any fake information in the census.

After taking the record from the census, the team also did a cognitive question interview which aimed to determine whether the questions were answered accurately or not.

The logistic regression model was being used by the team to measure the people of the comparative group. On the split side,  tests were used to measure those people with sensory loss, mental health complications and physical disability that comorbid with the underlying conditions including ASD and ID.

Then the investigators did a comparison between a normal group of population and mentally disturbed people. They found out that the people with co-occurring ID and ASD had more young males. They also found that they were more likely to have been born in the United Kingdom (UK) rather than elsewhere. The third finding suggested that there were no differences with regards to Caucasian versus non-Caucasian ethnicity.

On another hand, the investigators also determined that sensory loss and physical disability were more common in females than males that comorbid with ID and ASD whereas mental health complications were more common in males than females.

By compiling all the results, the team found out that all conditions were more prevalent with increasing age in the people with co-occurring ID and ASD, except for physical disability as it was more common in the children and older people than in the adults.

Source: UC Davis Health

The study was funded by the UK Medical Research Council and the Scottish Government via the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory.

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