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The polio model. Does it apply to polio?

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

  • Nete Munk Nielsen
  • Peter Aaby
  • Jan Wohlfahrt
  • Kåre Moølbak
  • Melbye, Mads

Background. According to the polio model, severity of disease increases with age at infection. Firstborn children and people belonging to small families are generally infected later and should accordingly have a higher risk of severe polio. However, this model does contradict other explanations of severity of childhood infections including the intensive-exposure model. Methods. To evaluate the deductions from the polio model we performed a study based on medical records from 5590 historical polio cases from the county of Copenhagen 1940-1953. The relative risk (RR) of polio according to age, birth order and sibship size was evaluated using census data from 1940 and 1950. Results. Severity of polio measured as frequency of paralysis or mortality did not show a steady increase with age, but a U-shaped curve being highest for the youngest as well as the oldest patients. The incidence of polio and paralytic polio was higher in families with several children compared with single children (RR = 1.13, 95% CI: 1.0-1.3). Furthermore, the incidence was higher in laterborn children (Ptrend < 0.0001). However, as predicted from the intensive-exposure model, secondborn children aged 1-4 years in two-child families had a higher risk of paralytic polio than firstborn children (RR = 1.47, 95% CI: 1.1-2.0), whereas the opposite relationship was found for those aged ≥ 5 years (RR = 0.65, 95% CI: 0.5-0.9). Conclusion. The polio model's prediction about the impact of age, sibship size and birth order on polio incidence and severity found only limited support. A model emphasizing intensity of exposure as a risk factor for severity may account better for the epidemiology of polio infection.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Vol/bind31
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)181-186
Antal sider6
ISSN0300-5771
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2002

ID: 259462720