Drowning is the most common fatal injury among children with autism.
People diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, which causes challenges with social skills and communication, die at an average age of just 36, noted the researchers. For the general population, life expectancy is 72.
Two motives drove Dr. Guohua Li, senior author of the study and founding director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University, to research the relationship between autism and injury.
"First, the prevalence of autism has been increasing," Li said, noting that there are an estimated 3.5 million people living with autism in the US, including about 500,000 children under the age of 15.
"Second, there is anecdotal evidence that people with autism are at higher risk of injury."
Actual research to provide hard evidence, though, has been difficult to find.