Childhood multiple sclerosis: a review

Amy Waldman, Erin O'Connor, Gihan Tennekoon
Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews 2006, 12 (2): 147-56
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) that is increasingly recognized as a disease that affects children. Similar to adult-onset MS, children present with visual and sensory complaints, as well as weakness, spasticity, and ataxia. A lumbar puncture can be helpful in diagnosing MS when CSF immunoglobulins and oligoclonal bands are present. White matter demyelinating lesions on MRI are required for the diagnosis; however, children typically have fewer lesions than adults. Many criteria have been proposed to diagnose MS that have been applied to children, mostly above 10 years of age. The recent revisions to the McDonald criteria allow for earlier diagnosis, such as after a clinically isolated event. However, children are more likely than adults to have monosymptomatic illnesses. None of the approved disease-modifying therapies used in adult-onset MS have been approved for pediatrics; however, a few studies have verified their safety and tolerability in children. Although children and adults with MS have similar neurological symptoms, laboratory (cerebrospinal fluid) data, and neuroimaging findings, the clinical course, pathogenesis, and treatment of childhood onset MS require further investigation.

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