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Mult Scler. 2009 May;15(5):627-31. doi: 10.1177/1352458508101933. Epub 2009 Mar 19.

Demographics of pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis in an MS center population from the Northeastern United States.

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Partners Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, Boston, MA, USA; Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.



The prevalence of pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis (MS) in the United States is unknown.


In a large cohort of MS patients, we sought to identify the proportion with first symptom-onset below the age of 18 years, and to compare their demographic and disease characteristics to a typical adult-onset MS population.


Patients seen at the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, with clinical histories and characteristics of first symptoms recorded in an electronic database, were included in this study.


We found that 3.06% of patients with a recorded MS history experienced a first attack under the age of 18 years of age compared to 30.83% of patients who experienced first symptoms between the ages of 25-35 years. Gender proportions were similar in both groups, with the exception of a lower female preponderance in pre-pubertal-onset patients. There was a higher proportion of non-Caucasians in the younger cohort. Localization of first symptoms was similar in the two groups.


About 3% of MS patients experience their first symptom prior to the age of 18 years. Standardized follow-up is required after a first demyelinating attack in childhood, which may lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of pediatric-onset MS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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