The Use of Google Trends Date to Track the Incidence of four Prevalent Diseases in the USA
TheUse of Google Trends Date to Track the Incidence of four PrevalentDiseases in the USA
Accordingto Luthardt and Keitges (2001), it was in 1956 when the completecount of the chromosomes was discovered and it was years after thatwhen different aneuploidies or condition wherein a person does nothave the exact number of chromosomes (Powell, 2012) were discovered.Diseases caused by aneuploidy can also be called genetic diseases orchromosomal abnormality. In 2006 an organization named March of Dimessaid that there is 1 chromosomal abnormality in every 150 babies.Some of these genetic diseases are Down Syndrome, KlinefelterSyndrome, Tuner Syndrome and Triple X Syndrome. Both KlinefelterSyndrome, Tuner Syndrome concerns the sex chromosome of the person.
Downsyndrome is the most common and first genetic disease described inhuman. It occurs to a child in every 700 children (Powell, 2012). Itsfirst observations were described by Dr. Langdon Down in 1866. Butaccording to the Brothwell’s book in 1960, it has been existingsince the sixteenth and seventeenth century (Selikowitz, 2008). Downsyndrome is a genetic abnormality that wherein an extra chromosome inthe 21stpair was formed because of an abnormal cell division. It can easilybe recognized because of its physical characteristics. Babies withdown syndrome commonly have low muscle tone and poor reflexes. Theirjoints are bigger than the usual and their heads are broader butslightly smaller with fontanelles that close later than 2 years oldwhich is the normal. Late development of teeth with unusual order canalso be observed (Evans-Martin, 2009). Children with this problem maylook the same but it is not necessary that they have all thecharacteristics. Some may have up slanting eyes with epicanthal foldsand brushfield spots, dysplastic ears, excess nuchal skin, Singletransverse palmar crease and clinodactyly of 5thfinger, protruding tongue, and diastasis recti (Powell, 2012). Downsyndrome causes further complications beyond usual childhoodillnesses. Forty percent chance of having congenital heart defect isone (National Association of Down Syndrome, ). Some 12% ofchildren with down syndrome also have gastrointestinal problems likeDuodenal atresia, TE fistula, omphalocele, pyloric stenosis, annularpancreas, Hirschsprung disease, imperforate anus. A 1% risk per yearof having hypothyroidism and 1% in lifetime that they can haveleukemia was also observed. 18% of the babies born with this can alsohave Leukemoid reaction and polycythemia. Aside from these there arestill other complications related to this chromosomal abnormalitysuch as increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Bothintellectual and developmental problems of patients can range frommild to moderate. There are patients who are healthy and can carry ontheir usual activities and there are some who have severe healthproblems like chronic heart diseases (Mayo Clinic, 2014). Accordingto Powell, the life expectancy of people in United States with Downsyndrome is 56 years as of 1991. And the leading cause of mortalityis chronic heart diseases.
Duringthe ancient time, there are countries like Greece that put disabledinfants to death. But this practice was stopped when early Christianchurches came. Unfortunately, during the Middle Ages, disable infantswere again neglected. Some of them were given to monasteries to betaken care or abandoned. It is those times when it was the monks whotook the responsibility of taking care of those people, but when thenineteenth century came, the welfare of the intellectually challengedpeople became a concern to different medical establishments(Evans-Martin, 2009). From then, the ways they should be treated hasbeen improved. During the past, parents of adults with Down syndromewhere told to treat them by their mental age. But in the 1960’s aconcept called “normalization” was introduced by Bank-Mikkelsenand improved by Wolfensberger. In normalization, the adult wastreated like a normal individual. They dress up like adult, givensome responsibilities and have recreational activities of a normaladult. This concept was seen to improve the quality of life of peopleaffected by the disease (Selikowitz,2008).
Anotherexample of chromosomal disorder is KlinefelterSyndrome or also known as XXY syndrome. It is a condition wherein amale was born with an extra X chromosome due to an error in the celldivision when the cells chromosomes of the mother cell do notseparate instead they go together in one daughter cell resulting toan excess of chromosomes in the daughter cell. It is known to be themost common cause of infertility in men (Lawley, 2011).
Thisextra copy of X chromosome affects the physical characteristics ofmen as well as sexual development and fertility. There are variedclinical manifestations of Klinefelter syndrome in men physiciansneed to recognize potential features of the disease throughout theirlife span. Below is the table that shows the manifestation ofKlinefelter syndrome in different life stages of a man.
Table1.Clinical features of Klinefelter syndrome throughout the life span(Tyler & Edman, 2004).
Usually none, occasionally hypospadias, small phallus, cryptorchidism
Developmental speech delay
Accelerated linear growth velocity
Eunuchoid body habitus arm span > height
Small testicular volume
Sparse axillary, facial, pubic hair
KlinefelterSyndrome is not a hereditary disease and cannot be passed on (MayoClinic, 2013). It is a result of a random error in the division ofthe cells upon the conception of the fetus. The first publishedreport about this disease was made by Dr. Harry Klinefelter in 1942and confirmed by Patricia Jacobs in 1954 (Nunez-Rodriguez, n.d.)
Anotherchromosomal abnormality is the turner syndrome. It is where a girl isborn with only one (Genetic Alliance, 2005) or has a missing part ofits X chromosome (Teens Health, 2011). It affects one in every 2500girls (Werther, 2003). Most girls with Turner syndrome have broadchest with widely spaced nipples, low hairline, low set ears, smalllower jaw, webbed neck (loose skin between the side of the neck andthe top of the shoulder), drooping eyelids, spoon shaped nails puffyhands and feet, short fingers and toes and short stature (height)(Genetic Alliance, 2005).
Itis advised that a multidisciplinary team should oversee the growthand development of the girl in its lifespan (Werther, 2003).
Lastly,is the Triple X syndrome. It is the presence of an extra X chromosomein the sex chromosomes of girls. It occurs to one in every 100 newborn girls. Most of the patients show no sign and symptoms but forsome they show tall stature, increased width between eyes andproportionally small head. (University of Michigan Health System,2013).
Samewith the turner syndrome it is advised that patients should seetherapist for there is no way that the extra X chromosome can beremoved.
Theaim of this study is to look at how the incidence of Down syndrome,Klinefelter syndrome, Turner syndrome and Triple X syndrome in theUSA have increased from 2004 to 2012 using Google Trends and comparethis data from actual reports on the incidents.
Itis hypothesized in this study that Google Trends present accuratedescription of the incidences of Down syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome,Turner syndrome and Triple X syndrome in the USA.
2.Materials and Methods
Googletrends were utilized to generate frequency of searches on each ofthese diseases and the assumption was made that each hit in the proxydata represents that someone that has the disease or know someoneclose to them has that the disease. Right diagnosis from healthgrades data were used to compare Google trends data.Books and documents about the diseases were also compiled to getfurther details.
3.Results and Discussion
Usingthe Google trends, the frequency of the disease was made. It wascompared to Right Diagnosis and below is the result.
Figure1: Incidence (hits) for Down syndrome on Google trends and Rightdiagnosis from 2002-2012
Basedon Google trend, the highest occurrence (90 hits) was observed in2004 and the lowest (60 hits) was on 2009 and 2012. As for the RightDiagnosis, there was a close movement of the occurrence of Downsyndrome from 2004 to 2012 (10 to 20 hits). Its peak was on 2012(20hits) and its lowest point was on 2007(5 hits).
Figure2: Incidence (hits) for Klinefelter syndrome on Google trends andRight diagnosis from 2002-2012
Itcan be observed that, it is only in Klinefelter syndrome that bothways showed almost close results. Both showed the syndrome’s peak,100 hits for Google Trends and around 80 for Right Diagnosis, during2004. Only that a drastic decrease of the incidence was observed inGoogle Trends, from 100 to around 20, but not in Right Diagnosis. Asudden increase in the number of patients was again observed in 2009according to Right Diagnosis but not in Google Translate.
Figure3: Incidence (hits) for Turner syndrome on Google trends and Rightdiagnosis from 2002-2012
Basedon Figure3, it can be seen that despite of the large discrepancy inthe result of the two systems, both showed the highest occurrence ofTurner syndrome in 2009. The difference in the trend that wasobserved was during 2007 and 2012 when Google trend showed a decreasein the occurrence while an increase in the Right Diagnosis.
Figure4: Incidence (hits) for Triple X syndrome on Google trends and Rightdiagnosis from 2002-2012
Ahigh discrepancy in the result can be observed in the graph. Based onGoogle Trends, from 2004 to 2012, the highest number of incidence wason 2006 and 2008 when it was recorded to have 100 hits of triple Xsyndrome in the country and the lowest occurrence happened in 2004when both showed no occurrence of the disease.
Neitherof the sources can be said “accurate” to be considered as thecorrect source of the prevalence of the four diseases concerned. Inmost of the diseases concerned, it was observed that they havedifference in their values of incidences.
Forthe data given by Google Trends, it has unitsto measure the data aside by and instead just offers a number togauge popularity of the topic. It cannot be considered accurate forits basis was only searches made by people. Thus it gave very highresults.
Onthe other hand, Right Diagnosis cannot be considered as the accuratesource also for it is possible that not everyone has files the caseor were not diagnosed by doctors especially the ones that showed noor just little symptoms thus giving a result of very low counts.
Itis therefore concluded in this study that the hypothesis that GoogleTrends presents accurate description of the incidences of Downsyndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, Turner syndrome and Triple X syndromein the USA s in valid. Nevertheless, a correction factor may bedeveloped so that the discrepancy in description between the actualand that reported in Google trends can be minimized by introducing acorrection factor.
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