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Pediatric MS

By Elaine Moore on 8/18/2008

Funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (five-year 13.5 million dollar grant), this project will be administered by: the University of Alabama at Birmingham; the State University of New York at Buffalo; the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN; Stony Brook University in Long Island, NY; Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston; and the University of California-San Francisco. Current studies include the effects of pediatric MS on learning and memory and the role of environmental triggers, such as Epstein-Barr Virus and low vitamin D levels.

Who is Affected?

Approximately 5 percent of all cases of MS are reported to occur in children younger than 16 years although researchers suspect that the number is much higher.

MS has been diagnosed in infants shortly after birth although it is primarily diagnosed in older children.

Up to 98 percent of children with MS initially experience recurrent attacks that alternate with periods of recovery, a form of disease known as relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). Over time, the physical disability increases even in the absence of acute disease attacks, causing a condition of secondary progressive MS (SPMS).

Disease Course

Similar to MS in adults, pediatric MS is characterized by multiple episodes of neurological dysfunction that are secondary to an inflammatory demyelination process of central nervous system white matter pathways. Acute first attack syndromes are similar in children and adults. The multiple attacks of MS in children must occur more than 30 days apart for diagnosis, which is similar to the diagnostic criteria for adult MS.

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