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Neurol Sci. 2017 Mar;38(3):473-479. doi: 10.1007/s10072-016-2801-9. Epub 2016 Dec 31.

Estimated prevalence of multiple sclerosis in Italy in 2015.

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Department of Life Sciences, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.
Department of Life Sciences, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.


Italy is a high risk area for multiple sclerosis (MS) as confirmed by the numerous prevalence and incidence studies conducted in several regions/districts of the country. Nevertheless, there are no recent published epidemiological data, nor studies about the total prevalence of MS in Italy. Our aim was to update as of 2015 the prevalence rates of MS in different geographical areas using already published epidemiological studies, and to estimate the overall prevalence of the disease in Italy. We made a search in MEDLINE database of all published studies on epidemiology of MS in Italy. Then, we applied, to the already published prevalence data, the last published incidence and mortality rates to recalculate, as of 2015, the prevalence of MS. So, we calculated the mean prevalence rate from our extrapolations, and we applied it to the population in 2015 to estimate the number of MS patients in Italy. Our prevalence extrapolations ranged from 122 to 232 cases/100,000 in the mainland and Sicily, with an average of 176/100,000, and from 280 to 317 cases/100,000 in Sardinia with an average of 299/100,000. Applying these media to the Italian population in 2015, we obtained an estimate of more than 109,000 MS patients in Italy. Our estimates were higher than the latest published rates but consistent with the annual increase of prevalence due to incidence that exceeds mortality, with the increase of survival and, maybe, with the probable increase of incidence.


Italy; Multiple sclerosis; Neuroepidemiology; Prevalence

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