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01 April 2011

Predictors of which children with demyelination will go on to develop MS

A large group of researchers from the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children have investigated the predictive factors for which children with an acute demyelinating event will go on to develop MS. The usual culprits turned up: low vitamin D, glandular fever infection, and the known genetic predisposition (one or more HLA-DRB1*15 alleles)

In a large prospective study of 332 children presenting to Canadian healthcare facilities with an episode of demyelination, researchers at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children confirmed the previously described strong associations with genetic predisposition, low vitamin D status and previous Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) infection.

Of note, they showed that as well as the increased risk of the particular genetic make up of having one or more HLA-DRB1*15 alleles (a little over double the risk), for every 10nmol/L lower the vitamin D level, there was an 11% increase in risk of going on to develop MS.

This strongly reinforces previous data suggesting the value of supplementing at risk children with vitamin D, and ensuring their vitamin D levels remain high year round.