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Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Nov 1;164(9):873-80. Epub 2006 Aug 11.

Peripheral insensate neuropathy--a tall problem for US adults?

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  • 1Division of Diabetes Translation, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.


The relation between height and lower extremity peripheral insensate neuropathy among persons with and without diabetes was examined by use of the 1999-2002 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey with 5,229 subjects aged 40 or more years. A monofilament was used to determine whether any of three areas on each foot were insensate. Peripheral insensate neuropathy was defined as the presence of one or more insensate areas. Its prevalence was nearly twice as high among persons with diabetes (21.2%) as among those without diabetes (11.5%; p < 0.001). Men (16.2%) had 1.7 times the prevalence of peripheral insensate neuropathy as did women (9.4%), but the difference was not significant after adjustment for height. Greater height was associated with increased peripheral insensate neuropathy prevalence among persons with and without diabetes (p < 0.001). This association was characterized by a sharp increase in prevalence among persons who were taller than 175.5 cm. Peripheral insensate neuropathy risk was significantly higher among those taller than 175.5 cm (adjusted odds ratio = 2.3, 95% confidence interval: 1.5, 3.5). The authors conclude that body height is an important correlate of peripheral insensate neuropathy. This association largely accounts for the difference in peripheral insensate neuropathy prevalence between men and women. Height may help health-care providers to identify persons at high risk of peripheral insensate neuropathy.

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