Most published studies have shown lower prevalence rates of Parkinson's disease (PD) in Asian and black African than in Western countries, leading to the hypothesis that Asians and blacks might be protected from PD.
To investigate the prevalence of PD in a Chinese population.
Registered residents 50 years of age or older (N=5061) on the islet of Kinmen located off the southeastern coast of the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Single-phase door-to-door survey by neurologists. All participants were administered a questionnaire and received motor examinations of the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale.
The participation rate was 96% (N=3915) among 4158 contacted individuals. Twenty-three cases of PD were identified, including three cases with dementia. The crude prevalence rate of PD was 587 (95% confidence interval (CI), 373 to 884) per 100 000 persons 50 years of age or older. Assuming no case of PD among individuals under 50 years of age, the prevalence rate was 119 (95% CI, 80 to 169) per 100000 for the total population.
The prevalence rates of PD in Kinmen were much higher than those reported from mainland China, but slightly lower than those reported from more developed countries. The present findings suggest that, instead of genetic factors, differences in case-as-certainment, life expectancy, and the length of survival with PD may be more important contributors to the variations in observed PD prevalence rates.