Multiple sclerosis risk in children spotted with MRI brain scans

October 11, 2017 by Karen N. Peart
Arrows indicate abnormalities on MRI brain scans in children with no symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Credit: Yale University

By the time multiple sclerosis (MS) is diagnosed in children, it may be difficult to prevent the disabilities and relapses that come with the disease. In a new Yale School of Medicine study, researchers examined MRI brain scans to identify children at high risk of developing MS before symptoms appear, which may lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Published in the November issue of the journal Neurology: Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation, the study of 38 at 16 sites in six countries showed that the MRIs can reveal changes in the brain associated with MS before the clinical symptoms of the disease appear in children.

The children in the study all underwent MRI scans for other reasons, most commonly headache, but the MRIs unexpectedly revealed signs of MS. Having MRI findings of MS without any symptoms of the disease has been termed radiologically isolated syndrome (RIS) and previously had only been seen in adults.

"For the first time we have proposed a definition of RIS in children," said lead author Naila Makhani, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and neurology at Yale School of Medicine. "Children with RIS may represent a high-risk group of children that needs to be followed more closely for the later development of clinical ."

Approximately 42 percent of children in the study with MRI findings of MS developed the first clinical symptoms of the disease about two years after the abnormal MRI, which shows a faster development of the disease than has been reported in adults. Children who had a specific marker in spinal fluid or who had MRI changes in the spinal cord, were at greatest risk of developing the clinical symptoms of MS.

Makhani said five of the children in the study received an approved treatment for multiple sclerosis to try to prevent the . This number is too small to accurately draw conclusions about the effect of treatment, she noted.

"We hope that our work will help inform expert guidelines for how to follow up children with RIS and help us accurately inform families of the risk of later developing multiple , something we were previously unable to do," said Makhani.

Explore further: Children with and without multiple sclerosis have differences in gut bacteria

More information: Radiologically isolated syndrome in children. Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. November 2017 doi: dx.doi.org/10.1212/NXI.0000000000000395

Related Stories

Children with and without multiple sclerosis have differences in gut bacteria

May 16, 2016
In a recent study, children with multiple sclerosis had differences in the abundance of specific gut bacteria than children without the disease. Certain types of bacteria were either more or less abundant in children with ...

Past pregnancies linked to reduced MS risk in women

March 7, 2012
Women who have multiple pregnancies may have a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to research published in the March 7, 2012, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy ...

Exercise may help kids with multiple sclerosis

August 12, 2015
(HealthDay)—Children with multiple sclerosis (MS) who exercise have less disease activity than those who don't, researchers report.

Study links mothers with rheumatoid arthritis and kids with epilepsy

November 16, 2016
A new study shows a link between mothers with rheumatoid arthritis and children with epilepsy. The study is published in the November 16, 2016, online issue of Neurology, a medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. ...

New study focuses on treatment for epilepsy caused by tuberous sclerosis

May 8, 2017
A clinical trial of a drug that researchers hope can prevent or delay the onset of epilepsy in children with tuberous sclerosis has begun at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston ...

Recommended for you

Nature or nurture? Innate social behaviors in the mouse brain

October 18, 2017
Adult male mice have a simple repertoire of innate, or instinctive, social behaviors: When encountering a female, a male mouse will try to mate with it, and when encountering another male, the mouse will attack. The animals ...

Brain activity predicts crowdfunding outcomes better than self-reports

October 18, 2017
Surveys and self-reports are a time-honored way of trying to predict consumer behavior, but they have limitations. People often give socially desirable answers or they simply don't know or remember things clearly.

Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays

October 18, 2017
If brain imaging could be compared to Google Earth, neuroscientists would already have a pretty good "satellite view" of the brain, and a great "street view" of neuron details. But navigating how the brain computes is arguably ...

'Wasabi receptor' for pain discovered in flatworms

October 18, 2017
A Northwestern University research team has discovered how scalding heat and tissue injury activate an ancient "pain" receptor in simple animals. The findings could lead to new strategies for analgesic drug design for the ...

Changing stroke definitions is causing chaos, warns professor

October 18, 2017
Proposals to change the definitions of stroke and related conditions are causing confusion and chaos in clinical practice and research, a Monash University associate professor has warned.

Brain-machine interfaces to treat neurological disease

October 18, 2017
Since the 19th century at least, humans have wondered what could be accomplished by linking our brains – smart and flexible but prone to disease and disarray – directly to technology in all its cold, hard precision. Writers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.