Health varies widely across different regions of Mexico

Jun 17, 2008

A new study of the burden of disease and injury across Mexico has found that the south suffers the highest rates of infectious and nutritional diseases, injuries, and non-communicable diseases. The study, by researchers at Harvard University, the World Health Organization (WHO), and Mexico's National Institute of Public Health, is reported in this week's PLoS Medicine.

Gretchen Stevens (Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA, and the WHO, Geneva, Switzerland) and colleagues estimated deaths and loss of healthy life years caused by various diseases and injuries for Mexico and its states using data from death registers, censuses, health examination surveys, and epidemiological studies. Loss of healthy life years was measured using a metric called "disability-adjusted life years" (DALYs)—one DALY is equivalent to the loss of one year of healthy life because of premature death or disability. They also identified the major risk factors for these diseases and injuries across the country.

Nationally, non-communicable diseases (particularly heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and liver cirrhosis) caused 75% of deaths and 68% of DALYs. Undernutrition, infectious diseases, and problems occurring in mothers and infants around the time of birth (maternal and perinatal diseases) caused 14% of deaths and 18% of DALYs. The leading risk factors for disease in Mexico were being overweight, having high blood glucose, and alcohol use.

When the researchers studied different regions of the country—an analysis called a "subnational burden of disease study"—they found that Mexico City had the lowest death rate whereas the relatively undeveloped Southern region of Mexico had the highest, particularly among young children. In Chiapas, the most southerly state of Mexico, undernutrition and infectious, maternal, and perinatal diseases caused nearly a third of DALYs. In addition to the highest infectious disease burden, the Southern region also had the highest noncommunicable disease and injury burden per head of population.

As poor countries become richer, they experience a change in the pattern of disease away from infectious diseases and malnutrition and toward noncommunicable diseases, a change known as the "epidemiological transition." The study's findings indicate that Mexico as a nation is at an advanced stage of the epidemiological transition—because of its improved economic status, the burden of disease caused by infectious diseases and undernutrition has decreased, and noncommunicable diseases now cause the largest share of the total burden of disease. However, liver cirrhosis and diabetes, and correspondingly the alcohol use, overweight and obesity and high blood glucose risk factors are more important in Mexico than in other countries at broadly similar stages in the epidemiological transition. At the same time, the study also shows that the poorest regions of the country, which have the highest ov erall burden of disease, are lagging behind the richer regions in terms of their position in the epidemiological transition.

In a commentary on this study, Martin Tobias from New Zealand's Ministry of Health, who was not involved in the research, says: "Mexico has taken the lead in demonstrating how subnational burden of studies can be done and how their output can be used to inform policy. Other countries would benefit from adopting a similar approach."

Citation: Stevens G, Dias RH, Thomas KJA, Rivera JA, Carvalho N, et al. (2008) Characterizing the epidemiological transition in Mexico: National and subnational burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors. PLoS Med 5(6): e125. -- medicine.plosjournals.org/perl… journal.pmed.0050125

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: US college pays $190M in exam pix settlement

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Making progress on deforestation

Jun 24, 2014

In 2005, Brazil was losing more forest each year than any other country. The good news is that today, Brazil has reduced deforestation in the Amazon rainforest by 70 percent, according to a recent study. ...

Scientist gets World Food Prize for wheat advances

Jun 18, 2014

A crop scientist credited with developing hundreds of varieties of disease-resistant wheat adaptable to many climates and difficult growing conditions was named Wednesday as the 2014 recipient of the World Food Prize.

Recommended for you

Keep your teens safe on the road this summer

4 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Car crashes are the leading cause of accidental death among American teens, and parents need to take steps to keep their teens safe when they're on the road this summer, an expert says.

Survey finds sharp increase in teen use of HGH

4 hours ago

(AP)—Experimentation with human growth hormones by America's teens more than doubled in the past year, as more young people looked to drugs to boost their athletic performance and improve their looks, according ...

Government drafting birth control accommodation

5 hours ago

(AP)—The Obama administration is developing a new way for religious nonprofits that object to paying for contraceptives in their health plans to opt out, without submitting a form they say violates their religious beliefs.

User comments : 0