At Children’s Hospital Boston, 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 considered a fatal disease and most people with MS have an average life expectancy.
- 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
© Children’s Hospital Boston; posted in 2012