HL Deb 20 June 1996 vol 573 cc39-40WA
The Countess of Mar

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they consider that diagnosis of CJD would still have been made in young people suffering neuro-degenerative disease, without the classic clinical signs of the disease as defined by Bell and Ironside in 1993, prior to the BSE publicity, and "… especially in view of the massive decline in hospital post-mortem examinations that are needed to confirm the diagnosis" (Boulton et al, Journal of Neurodegeneration, December 1995).

Baroness Cumberlege

Retrospective studies carried out at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have investigated autopsy rates for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and other related dementias in individuals under the age of 45 over the period 1979–95. The studies found that an overall autopsy rate of 45 per cent. existed in these disease groups for individuals of the stated age, which is substantially higher than the overall general hospital autopsy rate. From this data there seems to be no evidence of a sustained increase of CJD due to ascertainment bias following a higher post-mortem rate in suspected cases since the inception of the CJD Surveillance Programme in 1990. It therefore seems unlikely that cases of CJD and, in particular, the new variant of CJD, would have been overlooked had they occurred during the period in question.