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Background: The epidemiology of fibromyalgia is poorly defined. The incidence of fibromyalgia has not been determined using a large population base. Previous studies based on prevalence data demonstrated that females are 7 times more likely to have fibromyalgia than males and that the peak age for females is during the childbearing years.

Objective: We have calculated the incidence rate of fibromyalgia in a large, stable population and determined the strength of association between fibromyalgia and 7 comorbid conditions.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of a large, stable health insurance claims database (62,000 nationwide enrollees per year). Claims from 1997 to 2002 were examined using the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) codes to identify fibromyalgia cases (ICD code 729.1) and 7 predetermined comorbid conditions.

Results: A total of 2595 incident cases of fibromyalgia were identified between 1997 and 2002. Age-adjusted incidence rates were 6.88 cases per 1000 person-years for males and 11.28 cases per 1000 person-years for females. Females were 1.64 times (95% confidence interval = 1.59-1.69) more likely than males to have fibromyalgia. Patients with fibromyalgia were 2.14 to 7.05 times more likely to have one or more of the following comorbid conditions: depression, anxiety, headache, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Conclusion: Females are more likely to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia than males, although to a substantially smaller degree than previously reported, and there are strong associations for comorbid conditions that are commonly thought to be associated with fibromyalgia.

(C) 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.