Multiple Sclerosis

19 September 2008

MS risk higher further from equator

Rates of multiple sclerosis increase with distance from the equator in both the northern and southern hemispheres, according to a new report.

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Rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) increase with distance from the equator in both the northern and southern hemispheres, according to a new report that summarises information on the neurodegenerative disease in 112 countries.

The authors of the MS Atlas report, released Wednesday by the World Health Organisation and the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation, said their findings show that MS is a global disease, not just one that affects more developed "northern" and "western" countries, CBC News reported.

"Typically, our results confirmed the well-established suggestion that there are strong geographical patterns to the disease and that the frequency of MS varies by geographical region throughout the world, increasing with distance from the equator in both hemispheres," the report authors wrote.

They also found that low- and middle-income nations have a lack of services and resources to care for people with MS, and that poorer countries have fewer diagnostic tools, which means the disease is probably underreported in those countries.

The highest estimated rate of MS is in Hungary (176 per 100 000 people), followed by: Slovenia (150); Germany (149); United States (135); and Canada (132.5). – (HealthDay News, September 2008)

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