Sunday, 31 March 2013

Research: North South Gradients in Oz assessed by Drug use

Hollingworth S, Walker K, Page A, Eadie M. and the Australian regional prevalence of multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler. 2013. [Epub ahead of print]

BACKGROUND: Over some 50 years, field surveys have shown that the prevalence of multiple sclerosis (MS) increases with increasing distance from the equator in both the northern and the southern hemispheres. Such a latitudinal gradient has been found in field surveys of MS prevalence carried out at different times in various local regions of Australia.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this paper is to use a pharmacoepidemiological approach to obtain whole of population estimates of the prevalence of MS in the various Australian states and territories from the use of MS disease-modifying drugs used to treat relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).
METHODS: We analysed the dispensed use of subsidised RRMS drugs by jurisdiction.
RESULTS: In the 2005-2008 period, the calculated mean treated RRMS prevalence in Australia ranged from 7.5 per 100,000 in the far north to 53.2 per 100,000 in the extreme south and was linearly related to increasing southerly latitude. Public domain Australian data suggested that multiplying this prevalence by a factor of 2.2 (to account for untreated RRMS and other types of MS) may provide a measure of the prevalence of all varieties of the disease.
CONCLUSION: These findings provide contemporary and more comprehensive evidence for the gradient of MS prevalence with latitude in Australia than has previously been available.
The results say it all. Maybe be of interest particularly to our friends Down Under and the Vitamin D brigade.

1 comment:

  1. No real surprises there but nice to have it confirmed. Another thing to bear in mind with this study though is that prescription rates are not the same as diagnostic rates and many, many Queeenslanders move South to Victoria post diagnosis because the climate is more manageable down here for MS. So there may be some skewing of the figures because of migration patterns.

    But given the equatorial theory has been well established for ages now i does make sense. And a Melbourne winter is pretty limited in natural Vit D :)

    Cheers from Down Under

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