Huntington's disease (HD) is a rare, neurodegenerative disorder characterized by chorea, behavioral manifestations, and dementia. The aim of this study was to estimate the incidence and prevalence of HD through a systematic review of the literature. Medline and Embase databases were searched using terms specific to HD as well as studies of incidence, prevalence, and epidemiology. All studies reporting the incidence and/or prevalence of HD were included. Twenty original research articles were included. Eight studies examined incidence, and 17 studies examined prevalence. Meta-analysis of data from four incidence studies revealed an incidence of 0.38 per 100,000 per year (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.16, 0.94). Lower incidence was reported in the Asian studies (n = 2), compared to the studies performed in Europe, North America, and Australia (n = 6). The worldwide service-based prevalence of HD, based on a meta-analysis (n = 13 studies), was 2.71 per 100,000 (95% CI: 1.55-4.72). Eleven studies were conducted in Europe, North American, and Australia, with an overall prevalence of 5.70 per 100,000 (95% CI: 4.42-7.35). Three studies were conducted in Asia, with an overall prevalence of 0.40 per 100,000 (95% CI: 0.26-0.61). Metaregression revealed a significantly lower prevalence of HD in Asia, compared to European, North American, and Australian populations. HD is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder with a higher prevalence in Europe, North America, and Australia than in Asia. The difference in prevalence of this genetic disorder can be largely explained by huntingtin gene haplotypes.
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