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Study reveals more than double the amount of people living with multiple sclerosis in US

A new study estimates that in 2017, nearly 1 million adults (up to 913,925) were living with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the United States. This is more than twice the previously reported number from a national study in 1975 and subsequent updates.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, was launched and supported by the National MS Society with the goal of determining the best way to develop a scientifically sound and economically feasible estimate of the number of people in the US who have MS.

Previously it was estimated that there were 300,000-400,000 people living with MS in the US.

The research team developed and tested an MS case-finding algorithm, which accurately identified MS cases in health insurance dataset and calculating prevalence. The team noted that this method has the potential to be used to calculate other chronic neurological conditions.

Methods were developed to adjust for cases not counted in particular health claims datasets, as well as for people without insurance and people who may not have seen their doctors during the 3-year (2008 to 2010) span of the claims that were examined. They used population data to develop estimates of the prevalence of MS in the US in 2010, and then applied a calculation of prevalence growth rate (observed in claims data) to estimate the national MS prevalence for 2017. 

Having an updated prevalence estimate will allow a better understanding of the needs of people with MS and the economic burdens imposed by the disease on families and society. It will be a starting point for researchers to understand if MS is increasing, or if there are MS geographic clusters that may hold clues to new risk factors that trigger MS.

Source: MS-UK, 19/02/2019

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