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The incidence and prevalence of multiple sclerosis (MS) in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) had been reported in 1984 and was considered to be relatively low at that time. This study revisits the incidence and prevalence of MS in NL for the year 2001.
Case searches through patient files of neurologists in NL were conducted. A complete list of patients billed for MS in NL between 1996 and 2003 was obtained and all cases were confirmed via chart review.
There were 493 living MS patients yielding a prevalence of 94.4/100,000 which is significantly higher than previously reported. Of the living patients, 330 had relapsing remitting (RRMS), 94 had secondary progressive, 66 had primary progressive (PPMS) and three had unspecified MS. The total female to male ratio was 2.7:1. There was no difference between the female to male ratios for RRMS vs PPMS. Patients with PPMS had a later onset compared to RRMS (p<0.00001). Yearly incidences were relatively constant from 1994 to 2001 (5.6/100,000). Significant delays between first symptoms and final diagnosis were common and the delay time has not changed over the past 15 years. A prevalence of 88.9/100,000 was estimated from survival and incidence trends and was not significantly different than the measured prevalence (p=0.38).
The increase in incidence and prevalence are accounted for through both better access to diagnostic facilities and more practicing neurologists. The revised prevalence and incidence are more in keeping with recently reported values throughout Canada.
L’augmentation de l’incidence et de la prÉvalence se justifient par une plus grande accessibilitÉ aux moyens diagnostiques et par la prÉsence d’un plus grand nombre de neurologues. La prÉvalence et l’incidence que nous rapportons sont plus conformes à celles rapportÉes rÉcemment à travers le Canada.
Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, have been almost exclusively populated by immigrants from southwest England and southeast Ireland. The province’s population grew largely by natural increase from 20,000 people in 1835 to half a million at present. Very little interregional migration occurred within the province. This uniquely-populated region and its subsequent founder effect provide the basis to develop models of disease prevalence.
To develop a model for the regional prevalence of multiple sclerosis (MS), accounting for settlement patterns and geographic location (latitude).
All living MS patients with confirmed addresses (438 patients) in the province were mailed a survey requesting their place of birth. Regional prevalences were calculated from a 75% rate of return of the survey. Theoretical regional prevalences were proportionally calculated from the source prevalences of southwest England, southeast Ireland, Scotland and the Channel Islands based on settlement patterns. These theoretical regional prevalences were corrected for geographical variations of latitude based on observations in the United Kingdom. Theoretical and actual regional prevalences were compared.
When actual regional prevalences were compared with theoretical prevalences, very little variation was noted, especially after correcting for variation in latitude.
A regional variation in MS prevalence is noted in the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador. This regional variation can be modeled by using both migration patterns and latitudinal position. This model demonstrates that the prevalence of MS is influenced by both genetic and environmental contributions.
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