New findings from 10/66 Dementia Research Group

8 February 2012 - A new paper prepared by the 10/66 Dementia Research Group has been published today. The paper, Prevalence, Distribution, and Impact of Mild Cognitive Impairment in Latin America, China, and India: A 10/66 Population-Based Study, looks at the latest findings on the prevalence and impact of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in low and middle income countries.

Data from the study was gathered from Cuba, Dominican Republic, Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, China, and India, with more than 15,000 individuals aged 65 and over being surveyed. Participants completed standardised assessments of their mental and physical health and their cognitive function and the researchers also interviewed relatives and carers for further details about any memory loss or other decline in cognitive function or the presence of any neuropsychiatric symptoms.

The study found that, in low and middle income countries, mild cognitive impairment - an intermediate state between normal signs of cognitive aging, such as becoming increasingly forgetful, and dementia, which may or may not progress - is consistently associated with higher disability and with neuropsychiatric symptoms but not with most socio-demographic factors.

By using a clinical framework and a statistical model, the authors found that mild cognitive impairment with related memory problems was associated with disability, anxiety, apathy and irritability but not with depression.

Increasing age or former education level did not seem to be linked but the authors found that men had a slightly higher prevalence of mild cognitive impairment than women. Furthermore, the prevalence of this type of mild cognitive impairment ranged from 0.8% in China to 4.3% in India.

The authors say: This is one of the first studies, to our knowledge, to investigate the prevalence of [mild cognitive impairment with related memory problems] in [Low and Middle Income countries], where the large majority of older people and people with dementia currently live.”

They conclude: “Further evaluation is needed of the associations with disability and neuropsychiatric symptoms since our findings do suggest higher than expected comorbidity and there are large absolute numbers of older people with [mild cognitive impairment with related memory problems] in these rapidly ageing and populous world regions.”

The full paper is published in PLoS Medicine and can be viewed online here.