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A Comparison of Ambulatory Care Sensitive Hospitalizations Among Children With and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder

      Abstract

      Objective

      To compare the prevalence of hospitalizations for ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSC) in children with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and to compare inpatient health care utilization (total charges and length of stay) for the same conditions in children with and without ASD.

      Methods

      The 2009 Kids' Inpatient Database was used to examine hospitalizations for ACSC in children within 3 cohorts: those with ASD, those with chronic conditions (CC) without ASD, and those with no CC.

      Results

      The proportion of hospitalizations for ACSC in the ASD cohort was 55.9%, compared with 28.2% in the CC cohort and 22.9% in the no-CC cohort (P < .001). Hospitalized children with ASD were more likely to be admitted for a mental health condition, epilepsy, constipation, pneumonia, dehydration, vaccine-preventable diseases, underweight, and nutritional deficiencies compared with the no-CC cohort. Compared with the CC cohort, the ASD cohort was more likely to be admitted for mental health conditions, epilepsy, constipation, dehydration, and underweight. Hospitalized children with ASD admitted for mental health conditions had significantly higher total charges and longer LOS compared with the other 2 cohorts.

      Conclusions

      The proportion of potentially preventable hospitalizations is higher in hospitalized children with ASD compared with children without ASD. These data underscore the need to improve outpatient care of children with ASD, especially in the areas of mental health care and seizure management. Future research should focus on understanding the reasons for increased inpatient health care utilization in children with ASD admitted for mental health conditions.

      Keywords

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