Information about MS in children.
Although multiple sclerosis (MS) is more likely to be diagnosed in adults between the ages of 20 and 40, children can also develop the autoimmune disease.
According to WebMD, between 8,000 and 10,000 children under the age of 18 are diagnosed with MS each year, and many more could be living with the condition but have yet to be diagnosed.1 Here are some more facts to know about multiple sclerosis in children.
- Often MS is diagnosed in children following the nerve disorder acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM).
- Although MS often progresses slowly in children and teenagers, those who have an early onset of the disease may have physical disabilities earlier in life.
- Childhood MS often has more of an emotional effect on children, affecting school and social life as well as self-image.
- Symptoms of childhood MS are similar to adult MS, presenting problems with vision, balance, walking, bladder or bowel control, tingling or numbness, and tremors among others.
- Children with MS are also more prone to total lack of energy and seizures, which rarely affect adults with the condition.
- There is no cure for child-onset MS but there are treatments available to make life more comfortable and help relieve some of the symptoms of the disease.
- Corticosteroids can be used to reduce inflammation during flares, however, many may suffer from side effects.
- Plasma exchange and intravenous immunoglobulin can be used for children who cannot tolerate corticosteroids.
- Although there aren’t any medications that have been approved by the FDA for MS patients under the age of 18 to use, children are usually prescribed the same medications as adults but with a reduced dosage.
- Treatment will often also include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling.
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