Multiple sclerosis epidemiology in Sardinia: evidence for a true increasing risk


Maura Pugliatti,, Istituto di Clinica Neurologica, University of Sassari, Viale San Pietro 10, 07,100 Sassari. Italy
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Objectives– To update prevalence and incidence rates of MS among Sardinians. Materials and methods– The present work is a “spider” kind of population based survey, conducted over the interval 1968–97, on patients with MS (Poser criteria) living in the province of Sassari, Northern Sardinia (454,904 population). Results– A crude total prevalence rate of 144.4 per 100,000, an onset-adjusted prevalence rate of 149.7 per 100,000 and an average annual incidence rate of 8.2 for the period 1993–7 were found. Conclusion– Repeated epidemiological assessments of MS in Sardinia over decades have shown that the island is at high risk for MS. The present work highlights that MS incidence in Sardinia has been increasing over time. Although a substantial and widely spread improvement in MS case ascertainment can be postulated as the reason for such observations, a comparison between our data and those recently reported from a more industrialized province in Northern Italy seems to prove an at least partially real increase in MS risk among Sardinians and favours the hypothesis of a MS “Sardinian focus” as related to its latitude.