Elevated fracture risk for adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities

Bone. 2020 Jan:130:115080. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2019.115080. Epub 2019 Oct 24.


Background: Fracture is a high-burden condition that accelerates unhealthful aging and represents a considerable economic burden. Adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDDs) may be susceptible for fracture at younger ages compared to adults without NDDs; and yet, very little is known about the burden of fracture for these underserved populations. The purpose of this study was to determine the sex-stratified prevalence of all-cause fracture among adults with NDDs, as compared to adults without NDDs, and if comorbidity of NDDs is associated with greater risk of fracture.

Methods: Data from 2016 were extracted from Optum Clinformatics® Data Mart (private insurance) and a random 20% sample from Medicare fee-for-service (public insurance). ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes were used to identify adults with NDDs, including intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and cerebral palsy. Age-standardized prevalence of any fracture and fracture by anatomical location was compared between adults with and without NDDs, and then for adults with 1 NDD vs. 2 and 3 NDDs.

Results: Adults with intellectual disabilities (n=69,456), autism spectrum disorders (n=21,844), and cerebral palsy (n=29,255) had a higher prevalence of any fracture compared to adults without NDDs (n=8.7 million). For women, it was 8.3%, 8.1%, and 8.5% vs. 3.5%, respectively. For men, it was 6.6%, 5.9%, and 6.7% vs. 3.0%, respectively. Women with NDDs had a higher prevalence of fracture of the head/neck, thoracic, lumbar/pelvis, upper extremities, and lower extremities compared to women without NDDs. A similar pattern was observed for men, except for no difference for lumbar/pelvis for all NDDs and thoracic for autism spectrum disorders. For women and men, increasing comorbidity of NDDs was associated with a higher prevalence of any fracture: 1 NDD (women, 7.7%; men, 5.7%); 2 NDDs (women, 9.4%; men, 7.2%); all 3 NDDs (women, 11.3%; men, 13.7%).

Conclusions: Study findings suggest that adults with NDDs have an elevated prevalence of fracture compared to adults without NDDs, with the fracture risk being higher with greater numbers of comorbid NDD conditions for most anatomical locations. Our study findings indicate a need for earlier screening and preventive services for musculoskeletal frailty for adults with NDDs.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorders; Cerebral palsy; Epidemiology; Fracture; Intellectual disabilities; Neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / epidemiology
  • Cerebral Palsy* / complications
  • Cerebral Palsy* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicare
  • Prevalence
  • United States