Multiple sclerosis is more prevalent among black Americans than previously thought

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Newswise — Multiple sclerosis has traditionally been thought of as a condition that primarily affects Caucasians of European descent. But a new analysis by a North American team led by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) suggests that the debilitating neurological condition is more prevalent among black Americans than once thought. ing. It is also much more prevalent in northern regions such as New England, the Dakotas, and the Pacific Northwest.

The results of a new study were recently published in JAMA Neurology.

“It turns out that the prevalence of multiple sclerosis among black Americans is much higher than previously thought.” Mitchell Wallin, M.D., MPH, associate professor of neurology at UMSOM and the corresponding author of the study, said. “This is critical in that inequalities in health care and lack of representation in clinical research contribute to misunderstandings about the prevalence of the disease among historically underserved and underrepresented populations. This proves that it has had a significant impact on ”

Multiple sclerosis (MS) causes the immune system to attack the central nervous system, especially the protective layer of myelin that insulates nerve fibers. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, mood changes, memory loss, pain, fatigue and, in severe cases, blindness and paralysis. In 2019, a team led by Dr. Wallin found that the number of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the United States is nearly 1 million, double previous estimates.

In the current study, he and his colleagues evaluated 96 million adults’ anonymized health insurance claims over three years to identify adults living with multiple sclerosis. They provide more detailed estimates of the number of people over the age of 18 living with MS in different states and the prevalence of MS among people of different races and ethnicities living in specific regions. bottom.

This study found strong evidence of a higher prevalence of MS in northern regions compared to southern regions of the United States. “We don’t know for sure why this happens, but it may have something to do with the spread of the virus in cold weather, when people stay indoors, with less sun exposure and lower vitamin D levels. I can’t. ” Dr Warin said.

Many observational studies have associated low vitamin D levels with increased risk of MS and disease progression. Another landmark study published in Science found that common Epstein-Barr virus infections significantly increased the risk of developing MS, and a new study published this week found that the virus It has been demonstrated that antibodies produced by the body attack key proteins in the brain and spinal cord.

Regarding the prevalence of MS in specific subgroups of Americans, the researchers found that whites had the highest prevalence of MS, followed by blacks, “other races,” and Hispanic/Latino ethnicity. I discovered something. MS affects about 4 in 1,000 Caucasians, about 3 in 1,000 Blacks, about 2 in 1,000 in “other races” including Asians, Native Americans, Alaska Natives and multiracial, and Hispanics. It affects about 1.5 people in 1,000. Latin origin.

This study was funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Dr. William J. Culpepper, adjunct assistant professor of neurology at UMSOM and associate director of the VA’s Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence, is a co-author of the study. Faculty members from the Stanford University School of Medicine, the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, the University of Manitoba, and the University of Alabama also served as co-authors on the study.

“The results of this study will help public policy makers in determining a more equitable allocation of resources to populations that have been historically underrepresented in MS research and underrepresented in targeting prevention and treatment options.” It can have a big impact on people.” Mark T. Gladwin, MD, Dean of UMSOM, Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland-Baltimore, Distinguished Professors John Z. Bowers and Akiko K. Bowers, said: “Given the tremendous diversity of patients we care for throughout Maryland and in Baltimore, we, through our new UM Health Computing Institute, are targeting many new biologic therapies for African Americans. We also have a unique opportunity to bring new advances in the treatment of MS to human patients. Available.”

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