Hospital discharge rates for various immigrant groups resident in Greater London and the West Midlands were studied to compare the incidence of two diseases of the nervous system-motor neurone disease (MND) and multiple sclerosis (MS). For both these conditions immigrants from Europe, Ireland, America and from the old commonwealth countries of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand had discharge rates that were similar to those for people born in the United Kingdom. In contrast, immigrants from the new commonwealth countries of Asia, Africa, America (including the West Indies), and Europe (Gibraltar, Malta, and Gozo) had a greatly reduced risk of MS but a very similar risk of MND compared with those born in the United Kingdom. MS but not MND was rare among immigrants of Asian or African ethnic origin and uncommon among immigrants from the West Indies. Deaths attributed to MS and MND have also been studied. During a three-year period there were no deaths reported for MS among immigrants of Asian and African ethnic origin and 14 were expected. There were two deaths from MND among these immigrants and five were expected. Among the immigrants from the West Indies two deaths were attributed to MS and 13 were expected, and there were three deaths attributed to MND and four were expected. The contrast between MND and MS in hospital morbidity and mortality confirms that MS among immigrants to Britain is rare in those of Asian and African ethnic origin.
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