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Copyright 2012. Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under 16 Ana Maria Abreu Velez and Michael S. Howard

not generate more antibodies itself. Neonatal lupus does not predispose to future development
of lupus in the child.

Lupus Incidence and Prevalence


Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms resemble those of other
conditions. A second important factor relative to diagnosis is the lack of extensive
epidemiological studies regarding the incidence and the prevalence of the disease [19, 20].
Many studies are based on PubMed or other internet search engine data because the lack of
obligatorily reporting of this disease, and cases of diagnosis where ACR criteria are not
followed. A large study showed that autoimmune disease incidence and prevalence data
found in the literature varied considerably between the 24 diseases reviewed [21]. The largest
number of prevalence studies were conducted on multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid
arthritis(RA), and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) (>/= 23), followed by insulin-
dependent diabetes (IDDM), myasthenia gravis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and scleroderma
(>/= 7). The authors estimated in 1997 that 8,511,845 persons in the United States, or
approximately 1 in 31 Americans, were afflicted with one of these autoimmune diseases [21].
The diseases with the highest prevalence rates were Graves disease/hyperthyroidism, IDDM,
pernicious anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroiditis, and vitiligo, comprising an estimated
7,939, 280 people or 93% of the total number estimated. Glomerulonephritis, MS, and SLE
added an estimated 323,232 people. The other reviewed diseases were rare, affecting less than
5.14/100,000 persons. Most of the reviewed diseases were more common in women [21].
From the incidence data, we estimated that 237,203 Americans would develop an
autoimmune disease in 1996 and that approximately 1,186,015 new cases of these
autoimmune diseases would occur in the United States every 5 years. Women were at 2.7
times greater risk than men to acquire an autoimmune disease [21]. After reviewing the
medical literature for incidence and prevalence rates of 24 autoimmune diseases, the authors
concluded that many autoimmune diseases are infrequently studied by epidemiologists. As a
result, the total burden of these diseases may be an underestimated [21].
One of the most common manifestations of lupus is the classic solar-induced rash [22];
the rash may be recognized by many physicians. However, one study has noted that other
symptoms, including fatigue, may not be recognized unless occurring in a constellation;
appropriate blood tests may help to confirm the diagnosis [23]. If the results of this small
study were extrapolated to a larger scale, it could mean that up to 1 in 500 adult women (not 1
in 3,500) is affected with lupus. Such a figure probably represents an overestimate, but
systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) is a multisystem disease which can affect
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people of all ages and has been found worldwide. In our review, we aim to address the
incidence of the disease (how many people will develop the disease) and the prevalence of the
disease (how many people have the disease at a particular time). In other words, these
estimates address who gets the disease. Why they get the disease is more difficult to
address, but will be also be briefly discussed. Until a few years ago, there was very little
information on how prevalent lupus is in the UK [24]. It was generally considered a rare
disease, most general practitioners only having one or two patients in their care. However,
studies done in the late 1980s and early 1990s have shown that lupus is more common than

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