MS is a chronic, disabling disease of the central nervous system. It causes injury to the sheath (called myelin) that covers nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.
MS is usually diagnosed in adults between the ages of 20-50. The condition also affects children in an estimated 2%-5% of cases.
Nerve Fiber (Neuron)
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Malfunction of the body's immune system seems to be the cause of MS. The immune system attacks and damages the myelin. The exact cause of this malfunction is unknown.
Risk factors for MS include:
There are many different types of MS. When it occurs during childhood, the condition usually takes the form of relapsing and remitting. This means that the symptoms suddenly reappear every few months or years, last for a few weeks or months, then go back into remission.
The symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include:
Factors that may trigger or worsen symptoms include:
These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. If your child has any of these, talk to the doctor.
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
The goals of MS treatment are to:
Work with the doctor to develop a treatment plan for your child. Options include:
Examples of medicines used to treat MS in children include:
With plasma exchange , the proteins causing the damage to the myelin are removed from the blood. During the plasma exchange, fresh plasma is added back to the blood.
Depending on the symptoms, the doctor may recommend that your child works with a:
Your child may also need support from the teachers and staff at her school.
There are no guidelines for preventing MS. There may be some steps that you can take to prevent your child from having flare-ups, for example:
Multiple Sclerosis Association of America
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
Alan R. Multiple sclerosis. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated March 19, 2010. Accessed July 9, 2010.
American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Multiple sclerosis. American Association of Neurological Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aans.org/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Multiple%20Sclerosis.aspx . Updated November 2005. Accessed July 9, 2010.
Children’s Hospital Boston. Multiple sclerosis. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site775/mainpageS775P0.html . Accessed July 9, 2010.
De la Rocha K. Plasmapheresis. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated November 9, 2009. Accessed July 9, 2010.
DynaMed Editorial Team. Multiple sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated May 27 , 2010. Accessed July 9, 2010.
Munger KL, et al. Body size and risk of MS in two cohorts of US women. Neurology. 2009;73(19):1543-1550.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Pediatric (child) MS. National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/pediatric-ms/index.aspx . Accessed July 9, 2010.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Treatments. National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/treatments/index.aspx . Accessed July 9, 2010.
University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital. Multiple sclerosis. UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/conditions/multiple_sclerosis/index.html . Updated June 17, 2010. Accessed July 9, 2010.
Last reviewed June 2012 by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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