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Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

Multiple Sclerosis Rates Up 50%

Review Tracking Neurological Disorders Shows 1 in 1,000 Americans Have Multiple Sclerosis
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Conditions Not Tracked

These conditions aren't necessarily the most common neurological disorders, note Hirtz and colleagues.

For instance, they didn't track sleep disorders, chronic pain, or mental retardation.

And though autism and cerebral palsy are lifelong conditions, data were only available for cases in children.

Trends in Conditions

Besides the rise in MS prevalence, the researchers also note a "possible" increase in nonfatal stroke and a "substantial" rise in Alzheimer's disease, compared with the 1982 review.

Those trends are likely due to America's aging population and better diagnosis, according to the review.

Traumatic brain injuries are down by about half since the 1982 review.

"It is likely that this reflects more restrictive hospital admission criteria, although improvements in motor vehicle safety may also contribute," write Hirtz and colleagues.

They note no major changes in rates of cerebral palsy, epilepsy, migraine, ALS, or Parkinson's disease.

Previous estimates weren't available for autism spectrum disorders or Tourette's syndrome.

Past data were "too sparse" to track trends in spinal cord injury, the researchers say.

Concerns Over MS Estimates

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is voicing concern that the review underestimates multiple sclerosis in the U.S.

In a news release, the society says it "applauds the efforts of the NIH to document the importance of neurological disorders."

However, there is "considerable uncertainty about the exact number of people in the U.S. who have MS," says the society.

The society agrees with the reviewers that better studies are needed to improve the accuracy of MS estimates.

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