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The Declining Incidence of Legg-Calve-Perthes’ Disease in Northern Ireland: An Epidemiological Study

Mullan, Conor J. FRCS (Orth); Thompson, Lara J. MRCS; Cosgrove, Aidan P. FRCS (Orth), MD

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics: April/May 2017 - Volume 37 - Issue 3 - p e178–e182
doi: 10.1097/BPO.0000000000000819

Background: Legg-Calve-Perthes’ disease (LCPD) is an idiopathic disease of the femoral head affecting the pediatric population. The causative factors remains poorly understood and it is associated with significant hip pathology in adult life. Research has demonstrated wide geographical variation in the incidence rates of LCPD with a relatively high incidence occurring in Northern Ireland (NI) shown in a previous study of incidence from the same unit. The number of new diagnoses of LCPD seems to be declining over time. This study aimed to track changes in the incidence of LCPD within the 0- to 14-year-old population over a 15-year period in NI.

Methods: An established database was utilized to collate information of any individual between the ages of 0 to 14 years with a diagnosis of LCPD. The data were compared with electronic radiologic records to confirm the diagnosis. Postal code data were used to the determine location of residence and used as a proxy measure of deprivation.

Results: The results of this epidemiological study have demonstrated a 61% decrease in the incidence of LCPD over a 15-year period within the pediatric population of NI. Comparison between 2 cohorts reveals no distinguishable change in distribution of age or sex. The relationship between geographical proxy measures of deprivation in NI and LCPD remains evident.

Conclusions: The number of new cases of LCPD is decreasing over time. The epidemiological data are unchanged between 2 cohorts over a 15-year period, and this therefore supports a change within the patients’ environment relating to this decline. This change could relate to a number of factors including smoking rates, breastfeeding, lead use, and vaccination implementation.

Level of Evidence: Level IV—retrospective cohort study.

Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children (RBHSC), Belfast, UK

No support or disclosures to declare.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Lara J. Thompson, MRCS, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, BT12 6BE, UK. E-mail:

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