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Rising prevalence of multiple sclerosis worldwide: Insights from the Atlas of MS, third edition


Walton, C and King, R and Rechtman, L and Kaye, W and Leray, E and Marrie, RA and Robertson, N and La Rocca, N and Uitdehaag, B and van der Mei, I and Wallin, M and Helme, A and Napier, CA and Rikje, N and Baneke, P, Rising prevalence of multiple sclerosis worldwide: Insights from the Atlas of MS, third edition, Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 26, (14) pp. 1816-1821. ISSN 1352-4585 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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The Author(s), 2020. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page ( Request permissions for this article.

DOI: doi:10.1177/1352458520970841



High-quality epidemiologic data worldwide are needed to improve our understanding of disease risk, support health policy to meet the diverse needs of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and support advocacy efforts.


The Atlas of MS is an open-source global compendium of data regarding the epidemiology of MS and the availability of resources for people with MS reported at country, regional and global levels.


Country representatives reported epidemiologic data and their sources via survey between September 2019 and March 2020, covering prevalence and incidence in males, females and children, and age and MS type at diagnosis. Regional analyses and comparisons with 2013 data were conducted.


A total of 2.8 million people are estimated to live with MS worldwide (35.9 per 100,000 population). MS prevalence has increased in every world region since 2013 but gaps in prevalence estimates persist. The pooled incidence rate across 75 reporting countries is 2.1 per 100,000 persons/year, and the mean age of diagnosis is 32 years. Females are twice as likely to live with MS as males.


The global prevalence of MS has risen since 2013, but good surveillance data is not universal. Action is needed by multiple stakeholders to close knowledge gaps.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Multiple Sclerosis, epidemiology
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Epidemiology
Research Field:Major global burdens of disease
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Diagnosis of human diseases and conditions
UTAS Author:van der Mei, I (Professor Ingrid van der Mei)
ID Code:150563
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:335
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2022-06-20
Last Modified:2022-09-29
Downloads:3 View Download Statistics

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