Pediatric-Onset MS More Aggressive But With Slower Disability Rate

Childhood MSResearchers at the University at Buffalo reported that pediatric onset multiple sclerosis is more aggressive and can cause more brain lesions than the type of MS diagnosed in adulthood. But on the other hand, the researchers also found out that MS diagnosed during childhood also seem to develop disabilities at a slower pace than those with adult-onset MS.

The said study, authored by Dr. Eluen A. Yeh, MD and UB assistant professor of neurology, involved four sets of patients. One set was composed of 17 children with an average age of 13.7 years old and who were diagnosed with MS 2.7 years earlier. Another set was composed of 33 adults with an average age of 36.5 years who were diagnosed with pediatric-onset MS 20 years earlier. The third set was composed of 81 adult participants with an average age of 40 years and who were diagnosed with MS for an average of of 2.6 years. The fourth and last set was composed of 300 adults with ages that average 50.5 years old and had MS for 20 years.

The participants all went through brain MRI scans that measured two types of brain tissue damage- T1 lesion volume which are areas of permanent axonal damage and T2 lesion volume which shows the total number of lesions and overall disease burden. The resulting data showed that those participants diagnosed with pediatric onset MS indicated a more aggressive type of the disease in the early stages.

According to Dr. Yeh, "This corresponds with recent data that suggest a higher lesion burden in pediatric MS than adult-onset MS. These findings are somewhat surprising, considering we have assumed that children generally have a greater capacity for central nervous tissue repair." Patients with pediatric onset MS experience three times as many relapses each year than those with adult onset MS. But the average time for patients to reach the secondary progressive stage of the said disease is longer for those who had MS in childhood than those who had the disease as adults.

Source: University at Buffalo. "Multiple Sclerosis Is More Aggressive in Children but Slower to Cause Disability Than in Adults." ScienceDaily 23 November 2009. 24 November 2009