Pediatric Onset Multiple Sclerosis Patients More Relapses

According to a report published on the January issue of Archives of Neurology, patients who develop multiple sclerosis early in their childhood seem to be more at risk of suffering from disease relapses than those who are diagnosed with MS well into their adulthood.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston studies 110 patients suffering from relapsing-remitting MS in their adulthood and 21 patients with pediatric onset MS.

Relapsing-remitting MS is a common type of the said disease where sufferers experience certain periods of MS symptoms followed by periods of remission and experiencing no symptoms whatsoever during that time. Those of the participants who developed their symptoms on July of 2001 onwards were monitored with semi-annual neurological examinations that went on for 12 months or longer.

The said study revealed that those patients who developed the disease in childhood had a higher rate of yearly relapses than those patients who were diagnosed with the disease as adults. The findings stood even after the researchers considered other factors such as gender, race, and other variables.

According to the study authors, "In general, the disease course of MS has been divided into a relapsing-remitting phase, during which inflammatory mechanisms predominate, and a secondary progressive phase, during which neuro-degenerative mechanisms predominate. Acute relapses are the clinical hallmark of the inflammatory phase of MS.

The higher relapse rate in the pediatric-onset group in our study may therefore suggest that patients with pediatric-onset MS are coming to medical attention closer to the true biological onset of their disorder than patients with adult onset during a more inflammatory phase, as has been previously suggested."

They further added that if patients with pediatric onset MS do experience more relapses in spite of the slow progression of the disease, "this discrepancy may suggest greater plasticity, less neuro-degeneration and potentially more repair and remyelination in the younger nervous system. Further study of the biological basis for this discrepancy may yield insight into the apparent disconnect between relapses and long-term disability progression."

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals. "Relapses More Frequent In Patients Diagnosed With Pediatric-onset Multiple Sclerosis." ScienceDaily 17 January 2009. 20 January 2009 .

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