The epidemiology of multiple sclerosis (MS) is undergoing dramatic changes; MS is occurring with increased frequency in many parts of the world. In this retrospective study, we examined the changes in incidence and prevalence of MS in Kuwait in the period between 1993 and 2000. We analyzed the records of patients with clinically defined and laboratory supported MS. The total incidence rate increased from 1.05/100,000 population in 1993 to 2.62/100,000 in 2000. The increased incidence of MS was most pronounced among Kuwaiti women (from 2.26/100,000 in 1993 to 7.79/100,000 in 2000. The total prevalence rate increased from 6.68/100,000 in 1993 to 14.77/100,000 in 2000. It was much higher for Kuwaitis (31.15/100,000), as compared to non-Kuwaitis (5.55/ 100,000), in a complete reversal of the pattern observed before 1990. The prevalence was also higher among Kuwaiti women (35.54/100,000), as compared with Kuwaiti men (26.65/100,000). In conclusion, the incidence and prevalence of MS in Kuwait has increased between the early and late 1990s with no signs of leveling off. In a geographic area that was previously associated with low prevalence, local environmental factors may be responsible for these dramatic changes.

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