Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system mistakenly attacks a substance that surrounds and protects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. This substance is called myelin.
Myelin allows signals to move quickly and smoothly through the nerves. When it’s injured, the signals slow down and miscommunicate, causing the symptoms of MS.
MS diagnosed in childhood is called pediatric MS. Only 3 to 5 percentTrusted Source of people with MS are diagnosed before the age of 16, and less than 1 percentTrusted Source receive the diagnosis before they’re 10.
Symptoms of MS in children and teens
Symptoms of MS depend on which nerves have been affected. Since the myelin damage is spotty and can affect any part of the central nervous system, the symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from person to person.
In children, MS is almost always the relapsing-remitting type. This means the disease alternates between relapses, in which someone develops new symptoms, and remissions, in which there are only mild or no symptoms.
Flares can last days to weeks, and remission can last months or years. Eventually, though, the disease can progress to permanent disability.
Most symptoms of MS in children are the same as in adults, including:
- tingling and numbness
- eye problems, including vision loss, pain with eye movement, and double vision
- balance problems
- difficulty walking
- spasticity (continuous muscle contraction)
- bowel and bladder control problems
- slurred speech
Usually symptoms like weakness, numbness and tingling, and vision loss only happen on one side of the body at a time.
Mood disorders occur frequently in children with MS. Depression is the most common, occurring in about 27 percentTrusted Source of children with MS. Other frequent conditions include:
- panic disorder
- bipolar depression
- adjustment disorder
Approximately 30 percentTrusted Source of children with MS have cognitive impairment or trouble with their thinking. The most frequently affected activities include:
- attention span
- speed and coordination performing tasks
- information processing
- executive functions like planning, organizing, and decision-making
Some symptoms are more frequently seen in children but rarely in adults. These symptoms are:
To read this article in its entirety click this link: MS in Children and Teens.