Rates of multiple sclerosis rise with countries’ prosperity

Multiple sclerosis (MS) prevalence rises with countries’ prosperity, according to a new study, and occurs more in developed countries.

Researchers used data from 195 countries that was collected in 2017. They found that overall, 21.7 people had MS per 100,000. The country with the highest prevalence was Canada, with 168 people per 100,000. The Maldives had the lowest, with 1.52 people per 100,000.

Researchers proposed that better diagnostic facilities in more developed nations may partly explain the difference. They also said that more prosperous countries tend to be associated with potential risk factors for MS, such as obesity and smoking.

They also cited high infant mortality in developing nations as part explanation, as this could mean less people with compromised immune systems (such as people with MS) make it into adulthood.

“In general, the difference in income and the socioeconomic development globally have created a landscape for MS that should be studied in more detail in future studies,” the researchers concluded.