Multiple Sclerosis in Children

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Contact the Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Related Disorder Program

At Boston Children’s Hospital, we have already helped many children cope with their multiple sclerosis (MS). Once considered to be a strictly “adult” condition, MS is now being diagnosed more often in children than in the past. MS is a disease in which the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissue in the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. MS is now being diagnosed earlier, and it’s estimated that 10 percent of patients with MS start developing symptoms before they’re 18.

Here’s what you need to know about MS:

  • MS is a chronic “autoimmune” disorder, in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue in the central nervous system (the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves).
  • In most children with MS, symptoms start in a “relapsing-remitting” course.  This means that attacks (relapses) of symptoms go away (remit) and then come back.
  • MS can often look like similar disorders. At Children’s, we carefully evaluate children to provide an accurate diagnosis and then continue to provide follow-up care.
  • MS is not contagious.
  • The severity of MS symptoms varies from person to person and depends on what area of the nervous system is affected.
  • There’s no cure for MS yet. Treatment options for MS focus on controlling the immune system and help people manage symptoms.

How Children’s approaches multiple sclerosis

When a child or teenager has MS, the disease doesn’t just affect her body; it can influence every aspect of her life. Our team in the Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders Program understands this,so we’ve designed our program to care for your whole child.

Our program is led by Mark Gorman, MD,one of the few physicians in the country to complete formal fellowship training in both pediatric neurology and multiple sclerosis. Our team also includes a nurse, nurse practitioner, psychologist, pediatric neuropsychologist, educational consultant and a social worker, who provide ongoing support for children and families. And because MS is a chronic disease, we will help your child transition to adult specialists when he reaches adulthood.

Multiple sclerosis: Reviewed by Mark P. Gorman, MD
© Boston Children’s Hospital; posted in 2012

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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