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Monday, November 28, 2016

What Do We Know About Pediatric MS?


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BALTIMORE—Lack of evidence for disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) in children presents a significant challenge in pediatric multiple sclerosis (MS). Forty percent of children with pediatric MS discontinue DMTs for inefficacy or side effects, according to an overview presented at the 141st Annual Meeting of the American Neurological Association.
“We need to keep working on clinical trials in kids and not shy away from investigating the stronger agents,” said Jennifer Graves, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. Future studies should incorporate comprehensive outcomes that include measures of cognition, brain volume, and retinal integrity, she added. National and international collaborations currently under way may help achieve sample sizes that could provide conclusive evidence.

Pediatric MS Has Distinctive Features

Nearly 5% of patients with MS have pediatric onset of symptoms; 20%–30% of these patients have onset before age 11. The mean age of onset for pediatric MS is 13. In several ways the course of MS is different in children than in adults. Children typically have higher relapse rates than adults and are less likely to develop primary or secondary progressive MS in their childhood. Neurologists are concerned, however, about the possibility that these children will develop secondary progression in their 20s or 30s.

Jennifer Graves, MD, PhD

“A lot of these kids drop off the map between seeing us in pediatric centers and moving to adult MS centers. Often, these are the people that show up at [age] 30 with significant disability and high lesion burdens because they dropped out of care when they left their parents’ homes,” said Dr. Graves.
Unlike in adult MS, the gender ratio is approximately equal in prepubertal pediatric MS. 

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