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August 1962

Multiple Sclerosis in the Negro

Author Affiliations

Neurologist, Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness, National Institutes of Health.

Arch Neurol. 1962;7(2):83-91. doi:10.1001/archneur.1962.04210020005001

It is generally accepted that the frequency of multiple sclerosis declines from north to south and is virtually absent in tropical areas.1-5 This geographic distribution could be explained if Negroes, who form the bulk of the population where the disease is rare, were less susceptible to the disease or showed unusual clinical manifestations as compared to whites.

The evidence for a difference in susceptibility between white and Negro races is conflicting. Kurland and Westlund,4 who studied the frequency of multiple sclerosis in a number of cities in the United States and Canada, did not believe there was any significant frequency between the white and Negro race. On the other hand, Steiner6 in New Orleans and Brickner and Brill7 in New York both considered the disease uncommon in the Negro. Bailey8 thought it was less frequent in Negro than in white draftees in World War I.

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