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Relapses More Common in Pediatric-Onset Multiple Sclerosis

Pediatric relapse rate is nearly triple that of adult-onset multiple sclerosis patients

TUESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis are more likely to experience relapses than those with adult-onset disease, suggesting that their disease course may be more inflammatory, according to study findings published in the January issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Mark P. Gorman, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues studied 131 patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (110 with adult-onset disease and 21 with pediatric-onset disease) 12 months or less from onset of first symptoms, and followed them for at least 12 months.

The researchers found that the annualized relapse rate was 1.13 in the pediatric-onset group and 0.40 in the adult-onset group (adjusted rate ratio, 2.81). They also found that the group difference remained significant after controlling for duration of disease-modifying treatment (adjusted rate ratio, 2.82).

"Several studies have demonstrated that individuals with pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis have slower disease progression than their adult-onset counterparts, particularly during the early stages of the disease," the authors write. "It is unclear if this same pattern applies to our cohort given the relatively short disease duration. However, if individuals with pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis have slower disease progression despite more relapses than individuals with adult onset, as suggested in one study, this discrepancy may suggest greater plasticity, less neurodegeneration, and potentially more repair and remyelination in the younger nervous system."

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