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Increase in age at onset of rheumatoid arthritis in Japan over a 30 year period


OBJECTIVES To determine changes in demographic variables and severity of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that may have occurred during the 30 year period from 1960 to 1990 in Japan.

METHODS Using records of patients diagnosed with RA from two hospitals, demographic and clinical features at initial visit were compared between two groups, one from 1960 to 1965 (group I) and the other from 1985 to 1990 (group II).

RESULTS Mean age at the time of onset of the disease increased significantly from 37.5 years in group I to 46.9 in group II. The peak age at onset of RA shifted from the third to the fifth decade between group I and group II. There was no obvious change in morbidity as determined by seropositivity, rheumatoid nodules, and assessments of hip involvement.

CONCLUSION The age at onset of RA was delayed during a recent 30 year period in Japan. This increase in age at onset might result from environmental changes that occurred in Japan or may reflect a birth cohort phenomenon. Improvement of severity of disease was not found in this study.

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • age at onset
  • severity
  • secular trend.

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