Multiple Sclerosis Prevalence in the United States is Impacting All Races

By Rob Dillard - Last Updated: May 17, 2023

Multiple sclerosis (MS) burden has become more prevalent, and more racially and ethnically diverse, according to a new study published in JAMA Neurology.

MS is the most common progressive neurological disease in young adults, and impacts all facets of a person’s life. Recent incidence studies have shown higher rates of MS in Blacks than Whites, and moderate rates of the debilitating disease in Hispanics, with Asians and Native Americans having the lowest rates. Given that non-White racial and ethnic groups have significantly increased in population over the past five decades, it stands to reason that the prevalence of MS should be accurately assessed in an ever-changing demographic backdrop. Therefore, the goal of this study was to discern the US prevalence of MS in Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black, and White individuals, stratified by age, sex, and region.

Michael Hittle, BS, and colleagues conducted a cohort study consisting of 744,781 persons 18 years and older with MS (76% females, 24% males, 77% White, 10% Black, 7% Hispanic). The cohort was identified using a validated algorithm which captured private, military, and public (Medicaid as well as Medicare) administrative health claims between 2008 and 2010.

A More Diverse Disease

According to the results of 2010 MS estimates per 100,000 US residents (the key outcome of interest), White people have the highest prevalence of MS at 374.8 (95% CI, 195.6-199.9), followed by Blacks at 298.4 (95% CI, 296.4-300.5), Hispanics at 161.2 (95% CI, 159.8-162.5), and 197.7 (95% CI, 195.6-199.9) for individuals from non-Hispanic other racial and ethnic groups. Female to male MS ratio was found to be 2.9, while age stratification showed that people 45- to 64 were most impacted by the disease, irrespective of race. Moreover, the results showed that people living in North regions of the US have a higher prevalence of MS, across racial and ethnic groups. “Additional analyses are needed to examine climatological, demographic, infectious, and other factors that may contribute to this geographic variation,” the researchers said of the last noted finding.

The investigators concluded that: “In the United States, MS has become more prevalent and demographically diverse. These data are important for clinicians, researchers, and policy makers.”






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