Posted: Monday, Dec 29th, 2008
Forty-four persons in Lee County with MS have participated so far in the Health Systems Research study of MS prevalence in the area. The rate of 124.1 per 100,000 is well above other area counties. However, to be sure that the real level is known, everyone needs to take part. The national MS level is believed to be about 100 per 100,000.
All residents of Northwestern Illinois with multiple sclerosis (MS) are being asked to participate in a state-funded study to determine the number of area persons with the disease. MS results when the immune system attacks myelin, the protective insulation surrounding nerve fibers of the central nervous system affecting coordination, balance and vision.
Previous research by Health Systems Research has indicated that some portions of Northwestern Illinois may have elevated rates of MS. The University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford is one of a handful of research centers studying the epidemiology of MS.
Study participants must:
• Be 18 or older
• Have lived in Boone, Bureau, Carroll, DeKalb, Henry, Jo Daviess, La Salle, Lee, Ogle, Rock Island, Stephenson, Whiteside or Winnebago County on July 1, 2008.
• Have been diagnosed with MS by a health professional.
To take part in the study, or to obtain further information individuals may:
• Enroll at the study web site www.rockford.medicine.uic.edu.
• Call Health Systems Research toll-free at 1-800-854-4461 or (815) 395-5639 in the Rockford area for a participant form.
Joel Cowen, Assistant Dean for Health Systems Research thanks all those who have participated, but stresses the importance of full participation. “Unless almost everyone with MS takes part, we will not be able to accurately calculate the presence of MS.”
Cowen says that they will link demographic, socioeconomic and environmental factors to the distribution of MS to see whether certain characteristics may be associated with MS. By studying a large region, researchers expect to find that some areas may be higher than others. The analysis will take place at the zip code level, looking at areas within each county.
Names of study participants will be kept confidential, says Cowen.
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