Saturday, July 12, 2008

Scots, Nova Scotians, MS....and Cranky Baby

I was out getting groceries the other day at Pete's Frootique and took Cranky Baby with me. She was all over the place. Reaching for cake....


looking for sour cherries....she only found the sweet ones...


reaching for the home made potato chips....big no no....


in the pineapples....


with a new fan...

then a stop at the local fire hall...


checking out a police bike...


And all too soon the fun comes to an end....


Again, I managed to bail her out with only a warning and a promise of good behaviour. No more tampering with the fire equipment.

Today I will be attending the Halifax Highland Games. I will not be tossing cabers, piping, drumming, or doing a highland fling. I have set up a tent and will be handing out info about MS and chatting with people about the link among Nova Scotians, Scots, and MS. I originally wanted to set up my bike to accept donations for the Bike Tour, but the organizers said no to that. But I could set up an info booth/display. Here's some of the info:

As Canadians and Nova Scotians, we celebrate our heritage and our culture and our ties to the "old country". Food, music, dance, and literature are common things we share. Who in Nova Scotia hasn't heard of Robbie Burns or danced to a Scottish reel? The other thing we share is Multiple Sclerosis.

55,000 - 75,000 people in Canada have Multiple Sclerosis. In Atlantic Canada alone, we have 5,000 - one of the highest rates in the country. The MS Society in Scotland estimates 10,500 people have MS in Scotland. Based on recent population statistics, the two countries are almost equal in incidence of MS.

One of the big questions is why? Well, the geographical incidence of MS increases the further away from the equator you get. For example, Mexico has a population of 90 million, 15,000 of whom have MS. We have one third the population, but more than three times the incidence of MS. Canada and Scotland are quite far away from Mexico, yet, per capita, have a much higher incidence of MS.

Where did people from Scotland and other northern European areas settle when they left their home country? Many came to Canada. Early on they settled in Nova Scotia and branched out from there.

The ethnocultural portrait of Canada's provinces and territories reflects both the historical and current settlement patterns of the different waves of immigration to the country.

After Canadian, the other most frequently reported origins in 2006, either alone or with other origins, were English, French, Scottish, Irish, German, Italian, Chinese, North American Indian and Ukrainian.

The list of ethnic origins in 2006 includes cultural groups associated with Canada's Aboriginal people (North American Indian, M├ętis and Inuit) and the European groups that first settled in Canada, such as the English, French Scottish and Irish.

The largest group enumerated by the census consisted of just over 10 million people who reported Canadian as their ethnic ancestry, either alone (5.7 million) or with other origins (4.3 million).

The other most frequently cited origins were English (6.6 million), French (4.9 million), Scottish (4.7 million), Irish (4.4 million), German (3.2 million), Italian (1.4 million), Chinese (1.3 million), North American Indian (1.3 million), Ukrainian (1.2 million) and Dutch (1.0 million).

(Bold text is taken from the Statistics Canada Web site)

Our shared heritage hints at a genetic reason for MS. That may be part of it.

Aside from sharing a similar geography in distance from the equator, we share a lack of sunshine year round strong enough to enable our bodies to produce vitamin D. Recent studies have implicated this vitamin in MS.

BBC Scotland was recently in Halifax filming interviews with people of Scottish heritage and who also have MS for a future story about the connections between Scotland, Nova Scotia and MS. As well, the MS Society in Scotland is starting to jump on the genetics bandwagon in developing a national database of people with MS, something Canada has been working on for several years.

A recent poll has shown that one out of two Canadians knows someone with MS. How many do you know?

I'll be there most of the day. Tomorrow 3 or 4 of us will be at a fundraising flea market. With any luck we'll sell all our stuff and make millions of dollars for the Bike Tour. OK, maybe a couple hundred.

4 comments:

Denver Refashionista said...

Very interesting info. I had my Vitamin D chaecked and it was not low. I wonder why I have MS? No one in my family does and we are Russian. I guess there's just a lot more to the puzzle...

Shauna said...

DR,
It's simply a factor. Babies born in November have the lowest rate of MS as adults while those born in May have the highest. That suggests the mother's exposure to sunlight and Vitamin D while pregnant may be a factor.

Russia is pretty far above the equator, too. And of course other environmental factors must be considered such as childhood illness.

Neither of my parents have MS in their family that they know of. I do have a cousin around my age who also was diagnosed around the same time as me. And there has been talk in my dad's family about a long ago relative who took to his or her bed for a while because of some unknown illness.

When researching family lines and illness looking for MS, you have to look for clues like, "Great Uncle Joe always walked with a limp", or "Great Grandma Josephine took to her bed for two years when she was 53 - her sister came to look after the kids while she was resting". Because often, in smaller or rural communitites, MS may not have been easily identified.

I also have to laugh about the latest studies on coffee and caffeine and how it might protect one from MS. I'm a big coffee addict and have been for years but I still have MS. Like you said Nadja, there's a lot more to this puzzle.

S.

Joan said...

Speaking of Canadian heritage, my great grandparents came from Canada. My Great Uncle used to play hockey. IRONICALLY, no one else in my family says they are of Canadian heritage. They all say that they are German/Irish. I say that I'm German/Irish/Canadian. By admiting it, does that make me more vulnerable to MS (JUST KIDDING!).

Shauna said...

Joan,
I knew there was a reason I liked you...heh.
Your Canadian heritage only makes you more prone to appreciate the underdog. And gives you a better taste for beer. Wait, that's the German heritage.....
Do you say eh?

S.