Iraqi refugees at high risk of brain and nervous system disorders

New research suggests that a high number of Iraqi refugees are affected by brain and nervous system disorders, including those who are victims of torture and the disabled. The late-breaking research will be presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, April 9 – 16, 2011, in Honolulu.

The United Nations estimates that there are several thousand Iraqi living in the United States and the number is rising yearly.

"There are an estimated 40 million displaced refugees worldwide and the number of Iraqi refugees continues to grow due to conflicts in the Middle East," said Farrah Mateen, MD, with the Departments of Neurology and International Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "Our study presents the first results of a large national pilot project by the United Nations to monitor neurological disease in displaced people."

In Jordan in 2010, the United Nations (UN) reported that there were 36,953 registered Iraqi refugees and asylum seekers with 7,621 of those receiving health assistance.

For the study, researchers used a UN database in Jordan. A total of 1,295 refugees were reported to have a brain or disorder, or four percent of all registered Iraqi refugees. Of those, 10 percent were disabled.

The study found that five percent of refugees with brain or reported a history of torture compared to 3.1 percent of those without a diagnosed brain or nervous system disorder. The most common diagnoses were epilepsy (30 percent), back pain (27 percent) and headache (nearly 12 percent).

Neurologists were involved in 14 percent, or 179, of these cases and health education was available to about 11 percent of refugees with disorders.

"Our study highlights the great need for neurological health services, health education regarding neurological disorders and long-term disease management for refugees from war-torn countries," said Mateen.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Brain differences found in people with migraine

Nov 19, 2007

People with migraines have differences in an area of the brain that helps process sensory information, including pain, according to a study published in the November 20, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the ...

War affects Iraqis' health more after fleeing

Nov 03, 2008

The risk of depression is greater among Iraqi soldiers who took part in the Gulf War than among civilians. Surprisingly, on the other hand, neither of these groups showed any signs of post-traumatic stress ten years after ...

Recommended for you

New ALS associated gene identified using innovative strategy

8 hours ago

Using an innovative exome sequencing strategy, a team of international scientists led by John Landers, PhD, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School has shown that TUBA4A, the gene encoding the Tubulin Alpha 4A protein, ...

Can bariatric surgery lead to severe headache?

8 hours ago

Bariatric surgery may be a risk factor for a condition that causes severe headaches, according to a study published in the October 22, 2014, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurol ...

Bipolar disorder discovery at the nano level

9 hours ago

A nano-sized discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists helps explain how bipolar disorder affects the brain and could one day lead to new drug therapies to treat the mental illness.

Brain simulation raises questions

12 hours ago

What does it mean to simulate the human brain? Why is it important to do so? And is it even possible to simulate the brain separately from the body it exists in? These questions are discussed in a new paper ...

Human skin cells reprogrammed directly into brain cells

12 hours ago

Scientists have described a way to convert human skin cells directly into a specific type of brain cell affected by Huntington's disease, an ultimately fatal neurodegenerative disorder. Unlike other techniques ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TopherTO
not rated yet Apr 12, 2011
Any link to all that depleted uranium from spent shells scattered throughout the Iraqi desert?