(NEWSCIENTIST) — In 2010, China had more people living with Alzheimer’s disease than any other country in the world – and twice as many cases of Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia as the World Health Organization thought.

Cases of all kinds of age-related dementia in the country rose from 3.7 million in 1990 to 9.2 million in 2010. This is the finding of the first comprehensive analysis of Chinese epidemiological research, made possible by the recent digitisation of Chinese-language research papers. Previous estimates, based on English-language papers, seem to have under-reported the number of cases by half.

“We are now only beginning to comprehend the enormous value in this ‘parallel universe’ of information,” says Igor Rutan of the University of Edinburgh, UK, who was part of the team that carried out the research.

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