Children with multiple sclerosis consume less iron, which may affect their immune and nervous systems, according to a study.
The research, “Dietary factors and pediatric multiple sclerosis: A case-control study,” was published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.
Most MS cases occur between the ages of 20 and 40, but sometimes children under 18 develop it.
Pediatric-onset MS, as it’s called, is believed to account for 3 to 5 percent of cases that adults have now. Despite their low frequency, they are important because “the study of factors early in life which could affect their disease may provide important insight into the disease more generally,” the researchers from the Network of Pediatric MS Centers wrote.
One of the factors that could be important in the onset of MS is diet. But little has been known about how diet influences the risk and progression of the disease, particularly in pediatric MS.
The team recruited 312 MS patients 18 and younger from 16 children’s hospitals in the United States, and 456 controls without MS. The participants, or their parents, answered a questionnaire dealing with the participants’ medical history, their physical development, and whether they were exposed to potentially harmful environmental factors. The questionnaire also covered demographic information and race.
Researchers used the Block Kids Food Screener questionnaire to obtain information about the participants’ diets, including their intake of fiber, fat, carbohydrates, proteins, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and iron.
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