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New research confirms Scotland has one of the highest rates of MS in the world

New research conducted by the University of Edinburgh has reconfirmed that Scotland has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world.

Using the Scottish Multiple Sclerosis Register, a national database with records of people diagnosed since 2010, researchers have confirmed that although rates vary between the regions there is a high incidence of MS in Orkney and Tayside. Lower rates were reported across the central belt and in the Boarders.

The research identified women being particularly susceptible, with rates of the condition double that of men. For example, a woman in Orkney has a one in 50 chance of developing MS during her lifetime compared with around one in 600 for a man living in the Borders.

When it comes to latitude the study adds weight to previous findings that disease rates are greater in northern regions but also suggests that other factors may also be important.

Figures showed the incidence of the disease in Shetland is more than one-third lower than in Orkney, despite Shetland being located farther north. Rates of MS in Tayside are almost double those in Lothian, however.

Researchers concluded that these findings could have implications for service provision and supports further study to better understand the basis of regional variability. It also raises the possibility that biologically important risk factors may be variably distributed in Scotland, at least regionally, and future work is now possible to determine if variation exists at a more local scale.

This research was published in the Journal of Neurology

Source: MS-UK 19/06/19

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