Young-onset Parkinson's disease (YOPD) is most common among White individuals and men in America, research shows.
In a population of disabled Americans, aged 30‑54 years, receiving Medicare benefits, the prevalence of YOPD was 414.9 per 100,000 disabled individuals.
Of the 14,354 identified individuals with YOPD, White people comprised nearly 85% of the affected cases, with the condition being more common among men than women, at 48.9% and 34.7%, respectively.
By contrast, African‑American men, African‑American women, Hispanic men, and Hispanic women comprised just 6.8%, 5.0%, 2.4%, and 1.2% of the cases, respectively. Asian men and women combined made up just 1% of patients with YOPD in the Medicare cohort.
This demographic distribution of YOPD mirrors that of older-onset PD, report Allison Willis (Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri, USA) and colleagues in Parkinsonism and Related Disorders.
Although clinically similar to older-onset PD, YOPD typically affects individuals aged 21‑49 years of age. "The disease strikes at a time in life that for many patients is the most productive, rewarding, and demanding," note the researchers.
YOPD is often associated with psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis, disorders that are either a part of the disease process or a consequence of medical treatment for patients' neurologic disease.
In this analysis, psychiatric disorders were more common in the YOPD patients than in disabled individuals in the general population. For example, those with YOPD had a significant 89% increased risk for depression.
Individuals with YOPD were also eight times more likely to receive medical care for dementia and three times more likely to receive care for substance abuse/dependence. Finally, YOPD patients were significantly more likely to be hospitalized for psychosis, personality disorders, and psychosocial dysfunction.
Notably, the researchers observed an age-related increase in the prevalence of dementia/cognitive impairment, a finding that is in line with previous studies suggesting that dementia risk increases with age in YOPD patients.
"Cognitive impairment in men with YOPD may be associated with greater perceived or actual social/professional dysfunction, and result in a greater need for disability benefits," write Willis and colleagues.
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