Yes, children can get multiple sclerosis.
Children ages 12 and up are more typically affected and rarely before age 8. Awareness is essential for prompt diagnosis and treatment of pediatric-onset MS (POMS). Accurate diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in children requires screening for other conditions like MOG antibody-associated disease (MOGAD). Risk factors associated with higher rates of developing MS in kids include Epstein-Barr virus infection, genetic susceptibility, pesticide exposure, smoking (and secondhand smoke), low vitamin D, obesity and diet high in saturated fats.
Multiple sclerosis in kids can be very active with frequent relapses and concerning MRI activity kids. Rapid use of highly effective treatment is important to preserve brain health including cognition. Completed and ongoing global pediatric trials are redefining care. Oral fingolimod, for example, reduced relapses by 82% compared to interferon beta-1a injections weekly. Thanks to treatment advancements, teens living with MS have a brighter future ahead of them.
Barry Singer MD, Director of The MS Center for Innovations in Care, interviews Brenda Banwell MD, Chief of the Division of Neurology at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Emmanuelle Waubant MD, PhD, Professor of Neurology , University of California San Francisco and Director of the UCSF Regional Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center.