It is, perhaps, the saddest thing if a young, innocent child is struck with a chronic condition that has no cure. This is especially painful for parents of such children. The disease progresses but there is nothing much anyone can do about it. While pediatric multiple sclerosis is relatively rare, there are still a lot of very young people who are suffering from this condition.
Historically, MS is an adult-onset condition. Although it is very uncommon for children to develop this disease, recent statistics revealed that sufferers are increasing in numbers. According to one study in Canada, there is at least .9 incidence in every 100, 000 children. The youngest possible patient who showed initial symptoms of MS was 13 months old and the youngest diagnosis ever made was on a child aged 2 years old. In a retrospective study conducted in the United States, it was found out that 2%-5% of MS patients were diagnosed before they were 16 years old.
Like in adult population, there seems to be a gender imbalance in childhood MS. Hence, boys are less susceptible than girls against the risk of developing the condition and the onset of the symptoms.
The onset of pediatric multiple sclerosis is somewhat similar with the adult patients. This is characterized by demyelination of the “white matter” of the CNS as well as episodes of neurological dysfunctions.
Symptoms of MS are categorized into the following: cognitive dysfunctions, motor impairments, sensory symptoms, sexual functions deficit, problems with balance and coordination and bladder and bowel problems. Having said that, the common symptoms of MS include fatigue, numbness, paresthesias, troubled thinking, weakness of the extremities, spasticity or rigidity of the limbs, bladder impairment, speech impairment, tremors, pain and burning pain, seizures, depression, and Paroxysmal symptoms. These symptoms may or may not manifest in all patients and may come in varying severity.
Unfortunately, these symptoms inhibit children sufferers from performing well in normal situations. They fare worst in academics due to some cognitive dysfunctions.
No specific guideline for diagnosing MS in children is available. Thus, neurologists utilize the parameters used among older patients such as RMI, analysis of brain fluids and out ruling of other possible conditions. Most neurologists, pediatricians and physicians rely on ruling out other conditions as the primary diagnostic tool. Once all other diseases that produce the same symptoms are ruled out, diagnosis may be given. On some occasions when there is a somewhat unclear manifestation of the symptoms or the presentation of characteristics being looked for is somewhat suggestive of just the “possibility” of the condition being present, the physician may opt to wait for further developments.
Due to the similarity of symptoms and lack of sufficient technologies to treat and cure MS, treatments for children patients are somewhat identical with methods used among the older patients. On top of the conventional treatment methods, there are four types of injectable medications which help in modifying the condition. These drugs are typically used on a regular basis.
Remission or recovery in children, however, is reported as being well. This is partially because they have an attitude that does not worry much about their disease and in their lives, unlike adult sufferers. Also, they tend to have carefree dispositions that are not totally affected by the relapse of symptoms as well as the progression of the condition.