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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1992 Mar;85(3):211-7.

A cross-cultural family history study of primary progressive dementia in relatives of nondemented elderly Chinese, Italians, Jews and Puerto Ricans.

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Psychiatry Service, Bronx VA Medical Center, NY 10468.


Very few studies have directly compared the risk for Alzheimer's disease in different ethnic groups. This may be due in part to the costs and methodological difficulties associated with conducting traditional epidemiological studies. The family history method, in which information is collected on the dementia status of relatives of normal elderly members of ethnic groups of interest, offers a less costly and more practical preliminary approach. In the present study, 6866 first-degree relatives of 924 elderly, nondemented index subjects (305 Chinese, 212 Jewish, 215 Italian and 192 Puerto Rican, living in New York City) were assessed through family history interview for progressive primary and other dementias using previously published family history criteria. Both the Jewish and Italian groups had significantly increased cumulative risk for progressive primary dementia compared with both the Chinese and Puerto Rican groups. Although possible methodological biases cannot be discounted, these results appear to reflect differences between ethnic groups in the degree of risk for dementia.

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