Year of grant:

Research Area:
Heilsa - Sjúkrakassagrunnurin

Project type:

Project title:
Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the Faroe Islands

Grant number:

Project manager:
Turið Hammer

Deildin fyri Arbeiðs- og Almannaheilsu

Other participants:
Elsebeth Lynge, Kári Rubek-Nielsen, Pia Munkholm, Pál Weihe og Johan Burisch

Project period:

Total budget:

Grant from the FRC in DKK:

Project description:
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are chronic disorders of relapsing nature mainly encompassing Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Worldwide, the incidence of CD is between 0 and 20 per 100,000, and for UC, between 0 and 24 per 100,000. IBD was previously considered a disease of Western countries, but more recently it has been observed in many places of the world, with for instance a rapid increase in Japan.

IBD incidence has been examined in Faroese population-based studies for the periods 1964-83, 1981-1988 and 2005-2009. In 2010 and 2011, it was investigated within the European Crohn’s & Colitis Organization’s Epidemiological Committee study (ECCO-EpiCom), where the highest IBD incidence in the world was found in the Faroe Islands at 84 per 100,000 person-years.

The etiology of IBD is unknown, but it is believed to occur in genetically susceptible individuals, when exposed to environmental risk factors or triggers. The increasing incidence in the Faroe Islands could indicate a response to changing environmental exposures.

The aim is to explore the etiology of IBD on the Faroe Islands by:
1) Determining the IBD incidence in the Faroe Islands by sex and birth cohorts;
2) Determining the environmental risk factors for IBD;
3) Investigating the IBD incidence in Faroese citizens moving to Denmark

This epidemiological study is based on patient registrations from the National Faroese Patient Register and environmental exposures from the Faroese mother-child cohorts, the Children’s Health and the Environment in the Faroes (CHEF) project. Population data will be gathered from the Faroe Islands and Denmark.

The Faroe Islands is an ideal place for epidemiological studies due to the well-defined population, limited migration, and a high quality health care system. Furthermore, the exceptionally high incidence of IBD poses a challenge. A familial predisposition in IBD could not alone explain the dramatic increase in incidence over time, pointing at potential environmental influences deriving from for instance changing dietary habits. The unique setting of the Faroe Islands with a high-risk population, stresses the possibility for groundbreaking research with the potential to benefit not only the population of the Faroe Islands, but also nations worldwide.

Project status:

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