Climatic factors associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a spatial analysis from Taiwan

  • Ching-Piao Tsai Neurology, Neurological Institute, Taipei Veterans General Hospital and National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan, Province of China.
  • Charles Tzu-Chi Lee | Department of Public Health, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Province of China.


Few studies have assessed the spatial association of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) incidence in the world. The aim of this study was to identify the association of climatic factors and ALS incidence in Taiwan. A total of 1,434 subjects with the primary diagnosis of ALS between years 1997 and 2008 were identified in the national health insurance research database. The diagnosis was also verified by the national health insurance programme, which had issued and providing them with “serious disabling disease (SDD) certificates”. Local indicators of spatial association were employed to investigate spatial clustering of agestandardised incidence ratios in the townships of the study area. Spatial regression was utilised to reveal any association of annual average climatic factors and ALS incidence for the 12-year study period. The climatic factors included the annual average time of sunlight exposure, average temperature, maximum temperature, minimum temperature, atmospheric pressure, rainfall, relative humidity and wind speed with spatial autocorrelation controlled. Significant correlations were only found for exposure to sunlight and rainfall and it was similar in both genders. The annual average of the former was found to be negatively correlated with ALS, while the latter was positively correlated with ALS incidence. While accepting that ALS is most probably multifactorial, it was concluded that sunlight deprivation and/or rainfall are associated to some degree with ALS incidence in Taiwan.



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Original Articles
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sunlight exposure, rainfall, climate, Taiwan.
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How to Cite
Tsai, C.-P., & Lee, C. T.-C. (2013). Climatic factors associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a spatial analysis from Taiwan. Geospatial Health, 8(1), 45-52.