Multiple Sclerosis Rates Up 50%
Review Tracking Neurological Disorders Shows 1 in 1,000 Americans Have Multiple Sclerosis
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 29, 2007 -- Multiple sclerosis (MS)Multiple sclerosis (MS)may be 50%
more common in the U.S. than previously thought, according to a new research
The review from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
says almost one in 1,000 people in the U.S. have MS.
However, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society says that figure could
still be low.
The society points out that the review's estimate of MS prevalence (the
number of people with MS) works out to about 266,000 people.
But the society says it has "over 300,000 people" in its database
who say they have MS.
The review's researchers included Deborah Hirtz, MD, of the National
Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which is part of the National
Institutes of Health (NIH).
They analyzed 500 studies published from 1990 to 2005 to track MS and 11
other neurological disorders. Their findings appear in the Jan. 30 issue of
Since high-quality U.S. data on most disorders were lacking, the researchers
often applied data from other countries to the U.S. population.
That approach isn't ideal, the researchers admit. They call for better
studies to track neurological disorders in the U.S.
Still, they say their findings show "the burden of neurologic illness
affects many millions of people in the United States."
Multiple Sclerosis Findings
"Our estimate of MS prevalence is about 50% higher than a comprehensive
review from 1982," Hirtz says in an American Academy of Neurology news
"Whether this reflects improvement in diagnosis or whether incidence is
actually increasing deserves further study," Hirtz says.
How Common Are Neurological Conditions?
In addition to MS, the researchers tracked the prevalence of the following
- Migraine: 121 in 1,000 people
- EpilepsyEpilepsy: 7.1 in 1,000 people
- Alzheimer's diseaseAlzheimer's disease:67 in 1,000 people 65 or
- Parkinson's diseaseParkinson's disease: 9.5 in 1,000 people 65 or
- AutismAutismspectrum disorders: 5.8 in 1,000 children
- Cerebral palsyCerebral palsy:2.4 in 1,000 children
- Stroke: 10 per 1,000 people
- Traumatic brain injury: No prevalence estimates available
- MS: 0.9 in 1,000 people
- Spinal cord injury: No prevalence estimates available
- ALSALS(amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease): 0.04
in 1,000 people
- Tourette's syndrome: No prevalence estimates
Conditions Not Tracked
These conditions aren't necessarily the most common neurological disorders,
note Hirtz and colleagues.
For instance, they didn't track sleep disorderssleep disorders, chronic
pain, or mental retardation.
And though autismautism and cerebral palsycerebral palsy are lifelong
conditions, data were only available for cases in children.