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1.  Correlation of multiple sclerosis (MS) incidence trends with solar and geomagnetic indices: Time to revise the method of reporting MS epidemiological data 
Iranian Journal of Neurology  2014;13(2):64-69.
Background: Recently, we introduced solar related geomagnetic disturbances (GMD) as a potential environmental risk factor for multiple sclerosis (MS). The aim of this study was to test probable correlation between solar activities and GMD with long-term variations of MS incidence.
Methods: After a systematic review, we studied the association betwee
n alterations in the solar wind velocity (VSW) and planetary A index (AP, a GMD index) with MS incidence in Tehran and western Greece, during the 23rd solar cycle (1996–2008), by an ecological-correlational study.
Results: We found moderate to strong correlations among MS incidence of Tehran with VSW (rS = 0.665, P = 0.013), with 1 year delay, and also with AP (rS = 0.864, P = 0.001) with 2 year delay. There were very strong correlations among MS incidence data of Greece with VSW (r = 0.906, P < 0.001) and with AP (r = 0.844, P = 0.001), both with 1 year lag.
Conclusion: It is the first time that a hypothesis has introduced an environmental factor that may describe MS incidence alterations; however, it should be reminded that correlation does not mean necessarily the existence of a causal relationship. Important message of these findings for researchers is to provide MS incidence reports with higher resolution for consecutive years, based on the time of disease onset and relapses, not just the time of diagnosis. Then, it would be possible to further investigate the validity of GMD hypothesis or any other probable environmental risk factors.
PMCID: PMC4187332  PMID: 25295148
Multiple Sclerosis; Incidence; Geomagnetic Disturbance; Solar Wind Velocity; Environmental Risk Factor
2.  Can STOP Trial Velocity Criteria Be Applied to Iranian Children with Sickle Cell Disease? 
Journal of Stroke  2014;16(2):97-101.
Background and Purpose
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is strongly linked to stroke across all haplotypes in the pediatric population. Transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasound is known to identify the highest risk group in African-Americans who need to receive and stay on blood transfusions, but it is unclear if the same flow velocity cut-offs can be applied to the Iranian population. We aimed to evaluate baseline TCD findings in Iranian children with SCD and no prior strokes.
Methods
Children with genetically confirmed SCD (Arabian haplotype, homozygote) and without SCD (controls) were prospectively recruited from pediatric outpatient clinic over a period of 9 months. We performed TCD in both groups to determine flow velocities in the middle cerebral (MCA) and terminal internal carotid arteries (TICA).
Results
Of 74 screened children, 60 met the inclusion/exclusion criteria (62% female; mean age 10±4 years). Baseline characteristics did not differ between the cases and controls, except hemoglobin (Hb) which was significantly lower in the SCD group (P<0.001). The right MCA TAMM (Time Averaged Maximum Mean) was significantly higher than in controls (125+5.52 cm/s vs. 92.5+1.63 cm/s, P<0.001). Left MCA did not show differences. The TICA TAMM was also different between cases and controls (P<0.05).
Conclusions
Among Iranian children with asymptomatic SCD and without receiving recent transfusion TCD velocities are higher as compared to healthy controls but appear much lower than those observed in STOP (Stroke Prevention Trial in Sickle Cell Anemia) studies. We hypothesize that some children at high risk may be present with velocities lower than 170-200 cm/s thresholds. A prospective validation of ethnicity-specific prognostic criteria is warranted.
doi:10.5853/jos.2014.16.2.97
PMCID: PMC4060272  PMID: 24949316
Sickle cell; TCD; STOP criteria
3.  Incidence of first ever stroke during Hajj ceremony 
BMC Neurology  2013;13:193.
Background
The Hajj Ceremony, the largest annual gathering in the world, is the most important life event for any Muslim. This study was designed to evaluate the incidence of stroke among Iranian pilgrims during the Hajj ceremony.
Methods
We ascertained all cases of stroke occurring in a population of 92,974 Iranian pilgrims between November 27, 2007 and January 12, 2008. Incidence and risk factors of the first ever stroke in Hajj pilgrims were compared, within the same time frame, to those of the Mashhad residents, the second largest city in Iran. Data for the latter group were extracted from the Mashhad Stroke Incidence Study (MSIS) database.
Results
During the study period, 17 first-ever strokes occurred in the Hajj pilgrims and 40 first-ever stroke strokes occurred in the MSIS group. Overall, the adjusted incidence rate of first ever stroke in the Hajj cohort was lower than that of the MSIS population (9 vs. 16 per 100,000). For age- and gender-specific subgroups, the Hajj stroke crude rates were in general similar to or lower than the general population of Mashhad, Iran, with the exception of women aged 35 to 44 years and aged >75 years who were at greater risk of having first-ever stroke than the non-pilgrims of the same age.
Conclusion
The first ever stroke rate among Iranian Hajj pilgrims was lower than that of the general population in Mashhad, Iran, except for females 35–44 or more than 75 years old. The number of events occurring during the Hajj suggests that Islamic countries should consider designing preventive and screening programs for pilgrims.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-13-193
PMCID: PMC4234064  PMID: 24308305
Acute stroke; Hajj; Incidence
4.  Geomagnetic disturbances may be environmental risk factor for multiple sclerosis: an ecological study of 111 locations in 24 countries 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:100.
Background
We noticed that a hypothesis based on the effect of geomagnetic disturbances (GMD) has the ability to explain special features of multiple sclerosis (MS). Areas around geomagnetic 60 degree latitude (GM60L) experience the greatest amount of GMD. The easiest way to evaluate our hypothesis was to test the association of MS prevalence (MSP) with angular distance to geomagnetic 60 degree latitude (AMAG60) and compare it with the known association of MS with geographical latitude (GL). We did the same with angular distance to geographic 60 degree latitude (AGRAPH60) as a control.
Methods
English written papers with MSP keywords, done in Europe (EUR), North America (NA) or Australasia (AUS) were retrieved from the PubMed. Geomagnetic coordinates were determined for each location and AMAG60 was calculated as absolute value of numerical difference between its geomagnetic latitude from GM60L. By an ecological study with using meta-regression analyses, the relationship of MSP with GL, AMAG60 and AGRAPH60 were evaluated separately. MSP data were weighted by square root of number of prevalent cases. Models were compared by their adjusted R square (AR2) and standard error of estimate (SEE).
Results
111 MSP data were entered in the study. In each continent, AMAG60 had the best correlation with MSP, the largest AR2 (0.47, 0.42 and 0.84 for EUR, NA and AUS, respectively) and the least SEE. Merging both hemispheres data, AMAG60 explained 56% of MSP variations with the least SEE (R = 0.75, AR2 = 0.56, SEE = 57), while GL explained 17% (R = 0.41, AR2 = 0.17, SEE = 78.5) and AGRAPH60 explained 12% of that variations with the highest SEE (R = 0.35, AR2 = 0.12, SEE = 80.5).
Conclusions
Our results confirmed that AMAG60 is the best describer of MSP variations and has the strongest association with MSP distribution. They clarified that the well-known latitudinal gradient of MSP may be actually a gradient related to GM60L. Moreover, the location of GM60L can elucidate why MSP has parabolic and linear gradient in the north and south hemisphere, respectively. This preliminary evaluation supported that GMD can be the mysterious environmental risk factor for MS. We believe that this hypothesis deserves to be considered for further validation studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-100
PMCID: PMC3488506  PMID: 22998435
Geomagnetic disturbance; Hypothesis; Latitudinal gradient; Multiple sclerosis; Prevalence

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