Open Access Research article

A discrepancy of Chlamydia trachomatis incidence and prevalence trends in Finland 1983–2003

Erika Lyytikäinen12, Marjo Kaasila1, Eija Hiltunen-Back13, Matti Lehtinen14, Kaisa Tasanen2, Heljä-Marja Surcel1*, Pentti Koskela1 and Jorma Paavonen5

Author Affiliations

1 National Public Health Institute, Oulu and Helsinki, Finland

2 Deparment of Dermatology, University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland

3 Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland

4 University of Tampere, School of Public Health, Tampere, Finland

5 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2008, 8:169  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-8-169

Published: 18 December 2008



Reported rates of Chlamydia trachomatis are on the rise contradicting the declining rates of C. trachomatis associated reproductive sequelae in Western countries. Population based evaluation of the real trend of C. trachomatis infection is important to contemplate prevention efforts. We studied C. trachomatis occurrence during the past 20 years in Finland comparing incidence rate data based on serology and reported C. trachomatis laboratory notifications.


A random sample of 7999 women with two consecutive pregnancies within five years was selected from the population of the Finnish Maternity Cohort (FMC) serum bank stratified by calendar year and age. C. trachomatis IgG antibodies were determined by a standard peptide-ELISA. The reported incidence rates of C. trachomatis infections based on case notifications were obtained from the National Registry of Infectious Diseases (NIDR).


C. trachomatis seroprevalence rates decreased significantly from 1983 to 2003 both in women under 23 years of age (23.3% to 9.2%) and in women between 23–28-years of age (22.2% to 12.6%). However, seroconversion rates increased from 31 per 10000 person years in 1983–85 to 97 per 10000 person years in 2001–2003 (incidence rate ratio 3.2, 95% CI, 1.1–8.7) among the older age group. Seroconversion rate was highest (264) in 1983–1985 in the younger age-group, then declined and subsequently increased again (188) in 2001–2003. The incidence based on seroconversions was in agreement with the reported incidence rates in both age groups.


C. trachomatis seroprevalence rate decreased during 1983–2003 among fertile-aged women in Finland. During the same time period incidence rates based both on seroconversions and reported laboratory notifications of diagnosed C. trachomatis infections increased. The discrepancy between the C. trachomatis incidence and seroprevalence trends warrants further studies.