Children with multiple sclerosis (MS) recover more quickly and “significantly better” from relapses than do adults — patients with disease onset at age 18 or older, researchers reported.
The study, “Improved relapse recovery in paediatric compared to adult multiple sclerosis,” was published in the journal Brain.
Relapses and incomplete relapse recovery contribute to increasing disability in MS. In fact, data suggest that patients who fail to recover completely from a first relapse are at greater risk of transitioning more quickly to secondary progressive MS.
Age is known to affect relapse frequency, with children likely to experience two to three times more relapses than adults.
But disability worsening, as measured by increasing expanded disability status scale (EDSS) scores, is typically slower in pediatric patients.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and colleagues investigated how age affects relapse recovery in a large group of children and adults with MS.
They analyzed data on 632 adults, ages 18 or older, with MS (76.7% women) enrolled in the Comprehensive Longitudinal Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (CLIMB) study, and 132 children (65.6% girls) in the U.S. Network of Paediatric Multiple Sclerosis Centers (NPMSC) registry. Disability was evaluated based on EDSS scores determined within 30 days of relapse onset, and again six months later.
Specifically, researchers looked for changes in EDSS scores between the attack (baseline scores) and those at a six-month follow-up exam. Improvements in EDSS were defined as a decline in these scores at follow-up compared with baseline.
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