The prevalence of MS in the United States: A population-based estimate using health claims data

Neurology. 2019 Mar 5;92(10):e1029-e1040. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000007035. Epub 2019 Feb 15.


Objective: To generate a national multiple sclerosis (MS) prevalence estimate for the United States by applying a validated algorithm to multiple administrative health claims (AHC) datasets.

Methods: A validated algorithm was applied to private, military, and public AHC datasets to identify adult cases of MS between 2008 and 2010. In each dataset, we determined the 3-year cumulative prevalence overall and stratified by age, sex, and census region. We applied insurance-specific and stratum-specific estimates to the 2010 US Census data and pooled the findings to calculate the 2010 prevalence of MS in the United States cumulated over 3 years. We also estimated the 2010 prevalence cumulated over 10 years using 2 models and extrapolated our estimate to 2017.

Results: The estimated 2010 prevalence of MS in the US adult population cumulated over 10 years was 309.2 per 100,000 (95% confidence interval [CI] 308.1-310.1), representing 727,344 cases. During the same time period, the MS prevalence was 450.1 per 100,000 (95% CI 448.1-451.6) for women and 159.7 (95% CI 158.7-160.6) for men (female:male ratio 2.8). The estimated 2010 prevalence of MS was highest in the 55- to 64-year age group. A US north-south decreasing prevalence gradient was identified. The estimated MS prevalence is also presented for 2017.

Conclusion: The estimated US national MS prevalence for 2010 is the highest reported to date and provides evidence that the north-south gradient persists. Our rigorous algorithm-based approach to estimating prevalence is efficient and has the potential to be used for other chronic neurologic conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted
  • Female
  • Geography, Medical
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult