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Familial History of Autoimmune Disorders Among Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Oct 28, 2022

Studying pediatric MS provides a unique opportunity to gain insights into the pathophysiology and causes of MS because of the relatively fewer number of irrelevant exposures preceding disease onset and the possibility that larger exposures result in earlier onset.

Familial History of Autoimmune Disorders Among Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Generations of a Family

Faculty Contributor: John Rose, MD

What Is Multiple Sclerosis? Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder targeting the central nervous system.

Who Is Most Commonly Diagnosed with MS? Women around age 30 are most commonly diagnosed with MS. An estimated 5% of all MS cases have onset under age 18 years. 

Do We Know What Causes MS or What Risk Factors Are? While the cause of MS is still unknown, researchers have identified multiple genetic and environmental risks, including genetic variants or vitamin D deficiency.

What Makes This Research Unique? Studying pediatric MS provides a unique opportunity to gain insights into the pathophysiology and causes of MS because of the relatively fewer number of irrelevant exposures preceding disease onset and the possibility that larger exposures result in earlier onset. Also, since data consistently note that MS risk is increased among first-degree relatives of patients with MS, including children of parents with MS, this study sought to determine whether family members of patients with pediatric multiple sclerosis (MS) have an increased prevalence of autoimmune conditions compared with controls.

Research Results: Researchers found a substantial risk for autoimmunity in first and second-degree relatives.  Autoimmune diseases in the family members included autoimmune thyroid diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, MS, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease. The increased rates of autoimmune disorders, including thyroid disorders and MS among families of patients with pediatric MS, suggest shared genetic factors among families with children diagnosed with pediatric MS.

Dr. Charles Casper (PI) and John Rose (CoPI) have received new funding from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to continue research by the National Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Centers.

Read the full research article here.