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Prevalence and health care costs of mitochondrial disease in Ontario, Canada: a population-based cohort study

Buajitti E, Rosella LC, Zabzuni E, Young LT, Andreazza AC. PLoS One. 2022; 17(4):e0265744. Epub 2022 Apr 8. DOI:

Background — Mitochondrial disease prevalence has been estimated at 1 in 4000 in the United States, and 1 in 5000 worldwide. Prevalence in Canada has not been established, though multi-linked health administrative data resources present a unique opportunity to establish robust population-based estimates in a single-payer health system. This study used administrative data for the Ontario, Canada population between April 1988 and March 2019 to measure mitochondrial disease prevalence and describe patient characteristics and health care costs.

Results — 3069 unique individuals were hospitalized with mitochondrial disease in Ontario and eligible for the study cohort, representing a period prevalence of 2.51 per 10,000 or 1 in 3989. First hospitalization was most common between ages 0–9 or 50–69. The mitochondrial disease population experiences a high need for health care and incurred high costs (mean = CAD$24,023 in 12 months before first hospitalization) within the single-payer Ontario health care system.

Conclusions — This study provides needed insight into mitochondrial disease in Canada, and demonstrates the high health burden on patients. The methodology used can be adapted across jurisdictions with similar routine collection of health data, such as in other Canadian provinces. Future work should seek to validate this approach via record linkage of existing disease cohorts in Ontario, and identify specific comorbidities with mitochondrial disease that may contribute to high health resource utilization.

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