Multiple Sclerosis in Children

Understanding How Multiple Sclerosis Is Handled In Children

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, strikes between 8,000 and 10,000 children every year. Childhood MS is different from what adults with the disease would experience. Treating it can be a challenge. The disease is caused by the immune system attacking the nerves in the brain and spine. Here is what you need to know to understand how MS is handled in children.

Multiple Sclerosis in Children

Causes

The causes of childhood MS are not fully known or understood at this time. The protective coating on the nerves does still degrade away because of attacks from the immune system. What is not known is what triggers the disease. It is thought to be a combination of environment and genetics. It could also possibly be caused by minor infections.

Signs in Children

The symptoms of pediatric MS in children are both similar to and different from adults. Children can experience weakness, coordination problems and issues controlling the bladder. Kids might also have declining vision, numbness and tingling. It is common to see muscle spasms. Extreme fatigue is a unique symptom in children who might have MS. A final possible symptom is seizures. These are all possible signs that a child might have MS.

How the Disease Progresses

The progression of MS in children is very different from what is seen in adults. The disease tends to progress much slower in children up to a point. This means that loss of motor control might not occur for some time. The same is sometimes true for cognitive impairment. Children experience relapses and attacks around two to three times more frequently than adults with MS do. The development of lesions could also be accelerated although they can be less defined. Unfortunately, children with MS often become fully disabled earlier than an adult would even though the progression is slower overall.

How It Is Treated

The treatment for MS in children is largely the same as in adults. Doctors try to treat attacks, prevent attacks and deal with the symptoms. Corticosteroids are the main way that doctors try to treat MS in children because they are relatively safe and reduce inflammation in the brain. Drugs like Interferon are used to prevent attacks although they must be given in lower doses to children. Treating symptoms like depression, muscle spasms and tingling is done through typical prescription medications.

Challenges With Children

Childhood MS presents a number of unique challenges for doctors. The attacks can start to make it difficult for children to do things normally. This means children might have problem learning, communicating and socializing. Additionally, there is a chance that children might not develop correctly leading to problems later in life. Specialists often try to address these unique challenges in children with MS on an individual basis.