Journal Article

Prevalence of genetic muscle disease in Northern England: in-depth analysis of a muscle clinic population

Fiona L. M. Norwood, Chris Harling, Patrick F. Chinnery, Michelle Eagle, Kate Bushby and Volker Straub

in Brain

Published on behalf of The Guarantors of Brain

Volume 132, issue 11, pages 3175-3186
Published in print November 2009 | ISSN: 0006-8950
Published online September 2009 | e-ISSN: 1460-2156 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awp236
Prevalence of genetic muscle disease in Northern England: in-depth analysis of a muscle clinic population

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We have performed a detailed population study of patients with genetic muscle disease in the northern region of England. Our current clinic population comprises over 1100 patients in whom we have molecularly characterized 31 separate muscle disease entities. Diagnostic clarity achieved through careful delineation of clinical features supported by histological, immunological and genetic analysis has allowed us to reach a definitive diagnosis in 75.7% of our patients. We have compared our case profile with that from Walton and Nattrass’ seminal study from 1954, also of the northern region, together with data from other more recent studies from around the world. Point prevalence figures for each of the five major disease categories are comparable with those from other recent studies. Myotonic dystrophies are the most common, comprising 28.6% of our clinic population with a point prevalence of 10.6/100 000. Next most frequent are the dystrophinopathies and facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy making up 22.9% (8.46/100 000) and 10.7% (3.95/100 000) of the clinic population, respectively. Spinal muscular atrophy patients account for 5.1% or 1.87/100 000 patients. Limb girdle muscular dystrophy, which was described for the first time in the paper by Walton and Nattrass (1954) and comprised 17% of their clinic population, comprises 6.2% of our clinic population at a combined prevalence of 2.27/100 000. The clinic population included patients with 12 other muscle disorders. These disorders ranged from a point prevalence of 0.89/100 000 for the group of congenital muscular dystrophies to conditions with only two affected individuals in a population of three million. For the first time our study provides epidemiological information for X-linked Emery–Dreifuss muscular dystrophy and the collagen VI disorders. Each of the X-linked form of Emery–Dreifuss muscular dystrophy and Ullrich muscular dystrophy has a prevalence of 0.13/100 000, making both very rare. Bethlem myopathy was relatively more common with a prevalence of 0.77/100 000. Overall our study provides comprehensive epidemiological information on individually rare inherited neuromuscular conditions in Northern England. Despite the deliberate exclusion of relatively common groups such as hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy (40/100 000) and mitochondrial disorders (9.2/100 000), the combined prevalence is 37.0/100 000, demonstrating that these disorders, taken as a group, encompass a significant proportion of patients with chronic disease. The study also illustrates the immense diagnostic progress since the first regional survey over 50 years ago by Walton and Nattrass.

Keywords: population study; prevalence; Northern England; inherited neuromuscular diseases; muscular dystrophy

Journal Article.  7869 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; Neuroscience

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