Trends in Dementia Incidence in a Birth Cohort Analysis of the Einstein Aging Study

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Abstract

Importance

Trends in dementia incidence rates have important implications for planning and prevention. To better understand incidence trends over time requires separation of age and cohort effects, and few prior studies have used this approach.

Objectives

To examine trends in dementia incidence and concomitant trends in cardiovascular comorbidities among individuals aged 70 years or older who were enrolled in the Einstein Aging Study between 1993 and 2015.

Design, Setting, and Participants

In this birth cohort analysis of all-cause dementia incidence in persons enrolled in the Einstein Aging Study from October 20, 1993, through November 17, 2015, a systematically recruited, population-based sample of 1348 participants from Bronx County, New York, who were 70 years or older without dementia at enrollment and at least one annual follow-up was studied. Poisson regression was used to model dementia incidence as a function of age, sex, educational level, race, and birth cohort, with profile likelihood used to identify the timing of significant increases or decreases in incidence.

Exposures

Birth year and age.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Incident dementia defined by consensus case conference based on annual, standardized neuropsychological and neurologic examination findings, using criteria from the DSM-IV.

Results

Among 1348 individuals (mean [SD] baseline age, 78.5 [5.4] years; 830 [61.6%] female; 915 [67.9%] non-Hispanic white), 150 incident dementia cases developed during 5932 person-years (mean [SD] follow-up, 4.4 [3.4] years). Dementia incidence decreased in successive birth cohorts. Incidence per 100 person-years was 5.09 in birth cohorts before 1920, 3.11 in the 1920 through 1924 birth cohorts, 1.73 in the 1925 through 1929 birth cohorts, and 0.23 in cohorts born after 1929. Change point analyses identified a significant decrease in dementia incidence among those born after July 1929 (95% CI, June 1929 to January 1930). The relative rate for birth cohorts before July 1929 vs after was 0.13 (95% CI, 0.04-0.41). Prevalence of stroke and myocardial infarction decreased across successive birth cohorts, whereas diabetes prevalence increased. Adjustment for these cardiovascular comorbidities did not explain the decreased dementia incidence rates for more recent birth cohorts.

Conclusions and Relevance

Analyses confirm decreasing dementia incidence in this population-based sample. Whether decreasing incidence will contribute to reduced burden of dementia given the aging of the population is not known.

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