Eye Scans May Help to Diagnose MS in Children

A machine learning approach based on eye scans was employed by researchers to diagnose multiple sclerosis (MS) in children with up to 80% accuracy. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans also provided enough data to diagnose other demyelinating diseases with 75% accuracy. OCT is an imaging tool that uses…

Familial MS Most Common in Children, Women, Warmer Climates

Inherited or familial multiple sclerosis (MS) occurs most frequently in children, women, and people living in warmer climates, a new study suggests. Prevalence rates also differ according to geographical areas, with Canada exhibiting the highest rates and Hungary the lowest. The study, “The global prevalence of familial multiple sclerosis:…

FDA Rejects Expansion of Aubagio for Pediatric MS

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rejected an application requesting the expansion of Aubagio (teriflunomide) for the treatment of children and adolescents, ages 10 to 17, with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). “The FDA deemed the data submitted were not sufficient to obtain approval of…

Rutgers Health Leading Program to Support MS Children

Rutgers Health is leading the Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis and Demyelinating Diseases Program, the only program in the state of New Jersey designed specifically to support children with multiple sclerosis (MS). The support program seeks to promote children’s access to cutting-edge therapies and clinical trials, and to educate…

Fat Intake Increases Risk of Children with MS Having a Relapse, Study Suggests

Diet can play an important role in whether children with relapsing multiple sclerosis have a relapse, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco argue. Their study demonstrated that a diet with a lot of fat increases the risk of a youngster having a relapse by 56 percent, with saturated fat tripling the risk. Eating a lot of vegetables, on the other hand, cuts the risk in half, the team said. Since children with MS tend to have relapses more often than adults, the researchers figured they would be a suitable group to study diet's impact on relapse. They recruited 219 children with relapsing-remitting MS or clinically isolated syndrome from 11 centers across the U.S. Clinically isolated syndrome is a condition that can evolve in MS. The research team use a questionnaire known as the Block Kids Food Screener to analyze what the youngsters ate. They tracked the children an average of almost two years, which was plenty of time for relapses to occur. And, in fact, they did occur in 42.5 percent of the group. It turned out that fat had a particularly devastating effect on the youngsters' relapse rate. For every 10 percent increase in energy intake that came from fat, there was a 56 percent increase in the children's risk of having a relapse. Saturated fats were the biggest driver of risk. When researchers look only at these fats, they discovered that the risk more than tripled. Examples of saturated fats include processed meats such as sausages, ham, and burgers, butter, hard cheeses, and whole milk. Vegetables had the opposite effect on risk, the researchers observed. Using a cup equivalent as a standardized measure, they learned that for every additional cup of vegetables the children ate, the risk of a relapse dropped in half. To exclude the possibility that other factors influenced the results, the team included information about age, sex, ethnicity, duration of disease, body mass index, treatment, and D-vitamin levels in their analyses. This did not influence the results. The team also looked at whether other food components, such as sugar, iron, fruit and fiber, would affect the risk of relapse. They did not find any links. Although the risk associations were strong, the researchers cautioned that the study's observational design meant that it was not able to prove that fat causes relapses. But there are several ways that fat could play a role in disease processes, they argued. For instance, high fat intake triggers the release of inflammation-promoting molecules. It also affectsf gut bacteria that are linked to immune processes. Vegetables lower the risk of inflammation and immune problems, the team said. In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Kathryn Fitzgerald of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine said the study had important limitations. Researchers gathered information on the children's diet only in the week before they enrolled in the study. This might not adequately capture more long-term dietary patterns, she said. And fat is not simply fat, she pointed out, arguing that fish oil is believed to help MS patients. Although the California research offers insight, she called for long-term studies to define diet's role in MS.

#MSParis2017 – Gilenya Reduces Relapses in Children and Adolescents with MS, Novartis Trial Shows

Gilenya decreased relapses in children and adolescents with multiple sclerosis in the phase 3 PARADIGMS trial, according to the therapy's developer, Novartis. The Swiss company will present the trial's results at the 7th Joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS meeting, set for Oct. 25-28 in Paris. The study addressed the safety and efficacy of an oral, once-daily dose of Gilenya in 215 MS patients aged 10 to 17. Participants received 0.5 mg or 0.25 mg of Gilenya, according to their body weight, and results were compared with those of intramuscular Avonex (interferon beta-1a given once weekly). The trial — conducted at 87 sites in 25 countries — was designed in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the International Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Study Group. Gilenya led to a "clinically meaningful decrease in the number of relapses" over a period of up to two years, compared to Avonex, according to the trial. The safety results of Gilenya matched those observed in previous trials, with adverse events more likely among the Avonex group. Importantly, the PARADIGMS trial is the first-ever randomized, controlled Phase 3 study of a disease-modifying therapy in pediatric MS. No treatment is currently available for children and adolescents with MS. Novartis will now complete a thorough evaluation of the results and later submit Gilenya for approval by regulatory agencies. It will also extend the study to a five-year period.

Children and Teens with Multiple Sclerosis Consume Less Iron, Study Reports

Children with multiple sclerosis consume less iron, which may affect their immune and nervous systems, according to a study. Most MS cases occur between the ages of 20 and 40, but sometimes children under 18 develop it. Pediatric-onset MS, as it is 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. In a study funded by the National MS Society, researchers decided to investigate the association between diet and MS in children, according to a press release. 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. The analysis showed no meaningful link between the consumption of fiber, fat, carbohydrates, proteins, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products and children's development of MS. Children with the disease did have lower iron intake than the controls, however. Although in this exploratory study researchers didn’t look at whether there was a cause-and-effect relationship between iron and MS, the results suggested that children with the disease may be less likely to consume iron, a fact that warrants further investigation. Iron is a vital mineral for our body to function properly, and low iron intake may affect the immune and nervous systems. Future studies on the risk of children developing MS should "investigate the role of specific vitamins and minerals," the team said. They should also "investigate the influence of dietary factors on disease outcomes in already established" cases of MS.

I Have MS. Do I Tell the Kids?

It’s a question that nearly every MS patient faces. When do I tell my children about my multiple sclerosis, and what’s the best way to do it? In early January I wrote a column about sharing an MS diagnosis. It was prompted by a reader who had told…