CHILDREN WITH MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

MS can be seen in children as young as age 10

Multiple Sclerosis is often seen and diagnosed in people between ages of 20-30 years of age with women being the largest group seen with this disease. Children also can be have MS and symptoms can start as early as ages 9-10 but often these symptoms are either contributed to other things putting the diagnosis off until their teens.

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It has been reported that approximately 8000 children in our country have this devastating disease and again more female children than males. Their symptoms are like the adult form with many experiencing the tingling in hands and feet with some associated limb weakness, even some complain of visual disturbances. Most children at that age don’t complain to parents of these symptoms unless it really becomes limiting for them. Think about your child saying that it feels like their hands are going to sleep or their legs feel week, MS is not what would enter your mind especially if this disease isn’t something familiar to you. Most parents would contribute these complaints to playing to hard or sports related especially if they are complaining of muscle weakness or even muscle spasms. We then tell them to sit down and rest or limit their activities until they tell us they are feeling better. If they are playing outside or playing sports often they do get heated which does aggravate MS and once the rest is provided and cooling down the body core occurs, often the symptoms do subsides.

Since MS is not a familial disease, meaning it doesn’t usually run in families, it has been seen to do just that. Those of us who have Multiple Sclerosis or know someone close with this auto-immune disease are familiar with the symptoms associated with it. We would be more inclined to see some “red flags” if our child starts complaining about the more common symptoms, especially if they are repeated complaints. It seems that those who often go until their mid to late teens before being diagnosed are the ones whose families are not familiar with this disease. Often the symptoms are more severe or have had a serious condition that has arisen such as loss of sight, having severe eye pain, or repeated falling episodes before going to a physician.

Even though the percentage of a child being diagnosed with MS is very low, it is not unheard of which gives us as parents one more thing to be aware is possible. MS awareness is so important in alerting the public of what the symptoms are and it can affect anyone at any age and is seen in both sexes. If your child starts to complain about muscle weakness or tingling and numbness in an extremity start a log of when the symptoms began and how long they last, which part of the body is affected, and any circumstances which might have aggravated the symptoms such as increased activity, heat or even extreme cold, and don’t forget about increased stress which also can enhance the symptoms. If you see a pattern forming or if the symptoms become prolonged, talk with your Pediatrician about running a MRI and spinal tap to see if MS is present. The earlier this disease is caught the better the outcome.

MS Blogger and Multiple Sclerosis Activist shares her journey living with MS, tips for others living MS and her husband, Steve, offers his insight as a caregiver for MS.