Women with anorexia nervosa ( AN )
There are approximately 5600 patients with AN in The Netherlands alone; 95 percent of whom are female. This number increases annually by around 1300. 45 percent make a full recovery, 30 percent make a partial recovery, 25 percent do not recover: 10-15 percent of the patients die due
to malnutrition (two-thirds) and around 10 percent due to suicide (one-third). After treatment almost half of the patients recover, one third improve and in around one fifth of the cases the eating disorder proves to be chronic .
Prevalence of ASD in women with AN
Autism (ASD) is over-represented in individuals who develop AN and that ASD is a common occurrence in cases of long term/chronic AN. This comorbidity is associated with a more serious prognosis contrary to when there is only AN. The presence of autism can be seen as one of the most powerful predictors of a chronic eating disorder, which can last up to ten years.
Different studies show that as many as 23 percent of patients who have a long-term / chronic eating disorder also have underlying ASD contrary to the 5 to 10 percent initially suggested. It also shows that the percentage of women who seek help for their anorexia and seem to have highly functioning autism is approximately 20 percent higher than previously recorded. When a client is diagnosed with AN they may well refuse traditional treatment, it is then plausible to consider whether or not the client in question might have undiagnosed autism.