NORFOLK - March is National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month.

CHKD Pediatric Neurologist and Multiple Sclerosis Specialist, Dr. Ingrid Loma-Miller, has information about the illness.

What is Multiple Sclerosis or MS?
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. This disorder damages or destroys the protective covering (known as myelin) surrounding the nerves, causing reduced communication between the brain and nerve pathways.
MS can happen children. About 5% of cases of MS are diagnosed in children and teens. There are an estimated 10,000 children with MS in the United States.
Most children with MS experience their first attack between 9-13 years old.
MS in kids tends to progress more slowly than MS diagnosed in adults, however children tend to have more frequent relapses compared to adults.

What are some of the most common symptoms of MS and how is it diagnosed?
The symptoms will vary depending on what nerves are affected
Common symptoms include:visual problems: loss of vision, blurry vision, or eye pain; difficulty with balance and coordination; weakness in legs or arms; numbness and tingling in arms and legs; overwhelming fatigue
Since there is no one test that can determine if a person has MS, the doctor may order several tests, including blood tests, cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) tests, and brain scans.

What should parents know about MS?
MS can be difficult to diagnose in children because it can present with multiple symptoms. Many times, these are attributed to other diseases that are common to children.
As the only MS specialist in the area I have the pleasure of working with both pediatrics and adults Most insurance will cover the cost of treatment for MS in children.
There is no cure for MS but there is treatment that can help children from having further progression of the disease and prevent disability later in life.
Please know that your child is not alone in this fight. There are support groups, like the National MS Society to assist patients and families.
Children with MS can have difficulty at school with learning but with proper medication, support and communication with educators your child can be successful.
Children need to be on vitamin D supplements since this deficiency has been associated with increased relapses in MS.

There's more on the CHKD Web site.

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