Multiple sclerosis in North Norway, and first appearance in an indigenous population

J Neurol. 2000 Feb;247(2):129-33. doi: 10.1007/pl00007793.


This study was performed to determine the prevalence of multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1993 and annual incidence rates 1983-1992, and to examine whether the disease occurs among the Sami people. According to earlier reports the two northernmost counties of Norway, Troms and Finnmark with 225,000 inhabitants, have a relatively low prevalence of MS: 20.6 per 100,000 in 1973 and 31.5 in 1983. Also no person who is of pure Sami heritage (i.e., with both parents speaking Sami natively) has been found with the disease. Except for the introduction of magnetic resonance imaging as a diagnostic tool, there has been no significant change in the neurological service in the area during the past 20 years. Files of patients with the diagnosis of MS were reviewed, and questionnaires were sent to all patients alive on the prevalence day of 1 January 1993. The prevalence in 1993 was 73.0 per 100,000. The mean crude annual incidence rate was 3.5 per 100,000 during the period 1983-1992 compared with 3.0 during 1974-1982. In 1983 there were no pure Sami among the MS patients, but one had a Sami father. On 1 January 1993 there were three patients with both Sami parents and three with only one Sami parent, which is a rate that is still lower than would be expected if the prevalence of MS among the Sami were similar to that in the rest of the Norwegian population. The study shows that the incidence of MS in Troms and Finnmark has been increasing over the past 10 years, but is still lower than on the western coast and in the eastern part of Norway. The lowest incidence is found in Finnmark, where the Sami population is highest. During the past 10 years MS has also been diagnosed among the Sami population.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Continental Population Groups
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group*
  • Prevalence
  • Time Factors