Children With MS At Increased Risk Of Childhood Obesity

There are also children who may be afflicted with multiple sclerosis at an early age. But it seems that this may not be the only concern for parents. A recent study suggests that children who may have multiple sclerosis may also be at an increased risk of suffering from childhood obesity and the other ensuing condition that the condition may bring.

A study that was conducted by pediatric MS specialists at the University of Buffalo discovered that children who suffer from MS and other pediatric demyelinating disorders are also more at risk in becoming obese as compared to children who are not suffering from the said disorders. The findings were built upon previous studies that associate obesity in adolescence and MS in adulthood. But this may be the first study that has looked into the relationship between obesity and pediatric demyelinating disorders.

“We found that rates of obesity were high in children with demyelinating disorders and were especially prevalent in boys,” says E. Ann Yeh, MD., an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Buffalo and a pediatric MS specialist at the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Boys with demyelinating disorders were almost twice as likely to have a BMI greater than the 95th percentile than boys in the control group,” adds Yeh, who is also the lead author of the study.

The study involved evaluating the body mass index (BMI) of 186 children, 41 of whom had MS, 34 with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) and 15 with clinically isolated syndrome, which is an individual’s initial demyelinating episode. In addition, there were also 8 children suffering from optic neuritis and 87 children with other neurological disorders who also served as the control group.

The subjects in the said study were patients from UB’s Pediatric MS and Demyelinating Disorders Center of Excellence at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. The data used were collected between January 2003 and October 2010 for patients who were under 18 years of age.

The results of the study and analysis of the collected data showed that the rates of overweight and obese children were greater in the group with demyelinating disorders as compared to the control group. Boys who were included in the demyelinating group were also twice as likely to  have a BMI in the 95th percentile and higher.

“These findings underscore the need for attention to the nutritional and physical needs of children with these disorders,” says Yeh. “Comprehensive programs oriented toward the prevention of obesity in all children are needed, but we also need further studies to help define the relationship between obesity and risk for demyelinating disorders,” she further added.


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