Multiple Sclerosis—Child

(MS—Child)

Definition

MS is a chronic, disabling disease of the central nervous system. It causes injury to the sheath called myelin that covers nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.MS is usually diagnosed in adults between the ages of 20 and 50 years old, but it can be found in children.
Nerve Fiber (Neuron)
Myelin Sheath Damage
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

A malfunction of the body's immune system seems to be the cause of MS. The immune system attacks and damages the myelin. The exact cause of this malfunction is unknown.

Risk Factors

MS is more common in females. Other factors that may increase your child's chance of MS include:
  • Being exposed to certain viruses such as herpes virus-6 and Epstein-Barr virus
  • Having family members who have MS
  • Being of Northern European descent
  • Growing up in a colder climate, as opposed to a tropical climate
  • Having certain immune system genes
  • Having inflammation of the optic nerve
  • Having low vitamin D levels
  • Being obese as an adolescent

Symptoms

There are many different types of MS. When it occurs during childhood, the condition usually takes the form of relapsing and remitting. This means that the symptoms suddenly reappear every few months or years, last for a few weeks or months, then go back into remission.The symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include:
  • Numbness or tingling in the face or limbs
  • Impaired vision in one or both eyes, including blurred vision, double vision, and loss of vision
  • Eye pain
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle stiffness, spasms, weakness
  • Poor coordination
  • Trouble walking or maintaining balance
  • Weakness in one or more limbs
  • Bladder problems, including urgency, hesitancy, incomplete emptying, and incontinence
  • Bowel problems, including constipation
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Forgetfulness, memory loss, confusion, and difficulty concentrating or solving problems
  • Seizures
Factors that may trigger or worsen symptoms include:
  • Heat, including hot weather, hot baths or showers, and fever
  • Overexertion
  • Infection
These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. If your child has any of these, talk to the doctor.

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