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Moms, Dads With MS Equal Transmitters of Disease

Finding contradicts earlier report that men twice as likely to pass on genetic risk

THURSDAY, June 28, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Men and women with multiple sclerosis are equally likely to transmit the genetic risk of the disease to their children, claims a new study that contradicts another recent study that said fathers are twice as likely as mothers to pass the risk of MS to their children.

This new study looked at 3,088 Canadian families that included a parent with MS. Of the 8,401 children in these families, 798 had MS. The researchers calculated that 9.41 percent of fathers and 9.76 percent of mothers transmitted the genetic risk of MS to their children.

"We also found there were equal numbers of daughters and sons receiving the genetic risk of the disease from their parents," study author Dr. George Ebers, a professor of clinical neurology at the University of Oxford, said in a prepared statement. "Intriguingly, we also found when half siblings both have MS, there is a clear maternal effect with mothers much more likely to be the common parent."

The study was published June 27 in the online edition of Neurology.

Ebers and his colleagues found no evidence to support a recently published study's conclusion that men are more resistant to MS because they carry a higher genetic load and, therefore, are more likely to transmit the genetic risk of the disease to their children.

"Our study involved 16 times as many people as the previous published study. It casts further doubt on the widely believed multiple gene mode of inheritance of susceptibility to MS," Ebers said.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about multiple sclerosis.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, June 27, 2007
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