Recent insights in the epidemiology of autoimmune diseases: improved prevalence estimates and understanding of clustering of diseases

J Autoimmun. Nov-Dec 2009;33(3-4):197-207. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2009.09.008. Epub 2009 Oct 9.

Abstract

Previous studies have estimated a prevalence of a broad grouping of autoimmune diseases of 3.2%, based on literature review of studies published between 1965 and 1995, and 5.3%, based on national hospitalization registry data in Denmark. We examine more recent studies pertaining to the prevalence of 29 autoimmune diseases, and use these data to correct for the underascertainment of some diseases in the hospitalization registry data. This analysis results in an estimated prevalence of 7.6-9.4%, depending on the size of the correction factor used. The rates for most diseases for which data are available from many geographic regions span overlapping ranges. We also review studies of the co-occurrence of diseases within individuals and within families, focusing on specific pairs of diseases to better distinguish patterns that may result in insights pertaining to shared etiological pathways. Overall, data support a tendency for autoimmune diseases to co-occur at greater than expected rates within proband patients and their families, but this does not appear to be a uniform phenomenon across all diseases. Multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis is one disease pair that appears to have a decreased chance of coexistence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / classification*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Prevalence