New research shows that the incidence and prevalence of lupus, categorized using EULAR/ACR criteria, in Olmsted County, Minnesota, has increased over the past four decades. The incidence of lupus was higher in certain racial and ethnic groups, and the occurrence of the disease increased rapidly in the general population. Prevalence and incidence rates can reveal important trends in disease occurrence. While prevalence includes all cases, new and pre-existing, in the population at a specific time, incidence is limited to new cases only.
Lupus Midwest Network researchers used the population-based study to examine trends in lupus incidence, prevalence, and mortality over four decades (1976-2018) in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Over a 43-year period, the incidence of lupus increased by 2% per year in both men and women and in various age groups. A more than 60% increase in the incidence of lupus was observed in women and a six-fold increase in men (from 0.55 lupus cases to 3.18 lupus cases per 100,000 people). The incidence of lupus was higher among racial and ethnic minorities than among non-Hispanic whites. An increase in the prevalence of lupus has also been noted per 100,000 people (from 30.65 in 1985 to 97.4 in 2015). The researchers found no evidence that the severity of lupus changed over time.
Rising rates of lupus, which disproportionately affects people of color, can at least be partly explained by the growing ethnic and racial diversity of the US population. According to U.S. Census data, the non-Hispanic white population continues to decline from 63.7% to 57.8% in 2020. Learn more about risk factors for developing lupus.
Read the study