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How is multiple sclerosis (MS) in children treated?

Whether or not multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms in children are treated often depends on how much they interfere with daily functioning. Mild symptoms, such as tingling and numbness are generally not treated. However, it is still important to discuss and explain them to the young person with MS. (A pins and needles sensation can be frightening if not understood!)

Symptoms that affect performance at home and school require more intervention. For example, about 30% of children report fatigue that is so severe it disrupts their ability to function. Identifying the source of the fatigue, adjusting medications and teaching energy­conservation techniques are ways to manage this symptom. Modafinil and amantadine are two drugs that have been used to combat fatigue in adults and children with positive results.

Cognitive impairment is another symptom that requires management. Not only can it harm academic performance in a young student, but it can also hinder self­confidence and self­esteem. Educating school personnel, providing special accommodations (such as reduced work load due to fatigue) and teaching compensatory strategies to assist with memory loss are all strategies that have been effective in minimizing the effects of cognitive impairment in children.

The psychosocial impact of MS on a child’s physical and emotional well­being should not be underestimated. Early assessment leading to individualized intervention and support is vital in delaying disease progression and aiding in adjustment.

Studies suggest 2%-5% of all people with MS have a history of symptom onset before age 16. As doctors become more familiar with recognizing the symptoms of MS in children, it is speculated that the pediatric MS population will increase.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.