Friday, January 15, 2010

Differences Between Pediatric-Onset and Adult-Onset MS

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, causing destruction of the myelin sheath, a protective sheath that protects nerves in the spinal cord and/or brain. This destruction causes nerve damage that can affect the muscles, eyes, bowel, bladder, and brain. Though it is most commonly found in women aged 20-40 years old, it can be found in both males and females of any age. To understand the differences between pediatric-onset MS and adult-onset MS a team of researchers at the University of Buffalo held a study involving both adults and children.

The study involved MRI scans and specific MRI metric analyses for all patients, measuring hypointense lesions, and the overall lesion load. The study involved three different groups of adults – those who had been diagnosed with pediatric MS about 20 years earlier, those who had developed MS in adulthood and had the disease for 20 years, and those who had developed the disease only 2 ½ years ago, at age 40. The study also involved children who had been diagnosed with the disease about 2 ½ years ago, with an average age of 13 years old.

Researchers found evidence that shows that pediatric-onset MS is more aggressive than adult-onset MS, but takes longer to reach the higher levels of disability. Those with pediatric-onset MS have three times as many relapses as those who develop the disease in the adult years, and have a higher lesion burden, yet those with pediatric-onset MS develop disabilities at a gradual rate; it takes them nearly ten years longer to progress to the secondary phase of the disease. This research points to a need: early diagnosis and treatment for those with pediatric-onset MS.

The research was funded by the Children’s Guild Foundation of Buffalo, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which estimates that at least 8,000 to 10,000 children have MS. The study was published in the online journal Brain in November 2009.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

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