J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 52:282-285 doi:10.1136/jnnp.52.2.282
  • Research Article

The prevalence of the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome in Sydney, Australia: a prospective necropsy study.

  1. C Harper,
  2. J Gold,
  3. M Rodriguez,
  4. M Perdices
  1. Department of Pathology, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.


      In a prospective necropsy study, the prevalence of the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) in Sydney, Australia was 2.1% of adults over the age of 15 years. The population studied encompassed a wide spectrum of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Abuse of alcohol appeared to be the major predisposing factor to the development of the WKS in cases which were adequately documented. This high prevalence rate is in line with other clinical and pathological Australian studies and provides additional support for the idea of prevention of the WKS by the use of thiamin supplements in the Australian diet in flour, bread and perhaps alcoholic beverages.