Home News Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis on the Rise

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MS is usually thought of as a disease of adults, with the highest incidence of new diagnosis among people in their 20's to 40's. It can rarely occur in children (less than 18) and very rare in children less than 10.
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Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis on the Rise
Written by Ability Magazine.com   
Wednesday, 11 December 2002
As part of her typical morning routine, Tammy Wallace gets her four-year-old son, Kyle, ready for preschool. It was on one such morning that Wallace noticed that her son could not sit up independently.
Kyle has subsequently experienced symptoms not unlike multiple sclerosis, a disease thought to afflict adults only. This perception has caused its share of trouble. In trying to get help at a local hospital, Wallace is told that there is no such thing as childhood MS.

Now a December USA Today report, written by Kathleen Fackelmann, indicates that medical centers in the United States and Canada are seeing more cases of children with symptoms similar to Kyle's. Rather than playing in the sand, making new friends and developing cognitively, these children are facing a disease that can cause unpredictable bouts of paralysis, numbness and vision loss in addition to a host of other symptoms.

Statistics estimate 20,000 undiagnosed childhood MS cases in the United States. And medical evidence suggests the number of cases of pediatric MS cases are rising—perhaps because more doctors are considering the diagnosis when they see a child with telltale symptoms.

Traditionally, the USA Today article explains, neurologists have been taught that MS will strike and will progress in adults, most often women, between the ages of 20 and 40. However, one study, sponsored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, suggests that MS can launch its early symptoms in a child as young as six years of age. Some researchers have reported they have seen the disease in even preschool children.

Complicating the issue, treatments that have proven effective for adults may not have been tested or approved for children. Furthermore, there is no evidence showing these same drugs used in adult patients can also aid in pediatric cases.

For physicians specializing in this area, the battle with pediatric MS has taken on a sense of frantic urgency. Each attack can produce damage to the brain. Researchers fear that repeated attacks can leave a child with memory and learning problems.