Cognitive problems can persist into adulthood in people whose multiple sclerosis (MS) began in childhood or adolescence, and are linked to neurological issues and delays in treatment initiation, a study reports.
Early use of disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) and of approaches designed to preserve cognition should be encouraged for pediatric or early onset MS patients, its researchers stated.
These findings were detailed at MSVirtual2020 by Angelo Bellinvia, with the University of Florence, in the oral presentation, “Cognition and socio-professional attainment in paediatric onset multiple sclerosis: a reappraisal after 10 years.”
Statistics indicate that nearly 30% of MS patients with disease symptoms before adulthood have some degree of cognitive impairment, evident both in their educational performance and their ability to engage in social activities.
Investigators reviewed 10 years of data from a group of Italian patients with pediatric-onset MS (POMS) to evaluate how cognitive impairments affected their ability to achieve professional and social milestones as adults.
Of the 63 POMS patients initially assessed in 2008, 48 were re-assessed five years later, and 31 — 17 females and 14 males (average age of 27.9), with minimal disability (low mean expanded disability status scale scores) — were re-evaluated after 10 years.
All POMS patients analyzed had a relapsing-remitting disease course.
Re-evaluations consisted on a battery of neuropsychological tests to assess patients’ neurological and cognitive abilities, including verbal learning, visual-spatial learning, language, attention, and information processing speed. Patients who failed two or more of these tests were considered to be cognitively impaired.
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