Common Signs and Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis in Kids

Mitchel Williams portraitMultiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. It is an unpredictable condition that can be relatively benign, disabling or devastating. Although multiple sclerosis occurs most commonly in adults, it is also diagnosed in children and adolescents. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, estimates suggest that 8,000 to 10,000 children (defined as up to 18 years old) in the United States have multiple sclerosis, and another 10,000 to 15,000 have experienced at least one symptom suggestive of MS. March is designated as Multiple Sclerosis Month, a good time to review signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Mitchel Williams, MD, neurologist on staff at Children’s Hospital of Michigan with a special interest in pediatric multiple sclerosis, says symptoms seen in children are similar to those seen in adults, and often can be treated with physical therapy and medications to help reduce relapses and control the symptoms. Symptoms experienced by children that are not typical in adults, include seizures and mental status changes (lethargy).

Multiple sclerosis symptoms can include:

  • Bladder/Bowel Dysfunction
  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Fatigue
  • Vision Problems
  • Numbness
  • Dizziness and Vertigo
  • Pain
  • Cognitive Dysfunction
  • Emotional Changes
  • Depression
  • Spasticity

 Dr. Williams says that it can be more challenging to diagnosis children than adults since symptoms can be similar to other disorders and parents and some clinicians may not expect the diagnosis in children. If your child experiences any of the symptoms mentioned it is best to contact a pediatrician or pediatric neurology specialist to evaluate the situation.

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