Objective To identify the demographics, clinical characteristics, disease course, treatment patterns, and disability levels of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients with onset under the age of 10 years (early onset multiple sclerosis, EOMS).
Methods EOMS patients were reviewed retrospectively in detailed records from 27 child neurology centers. Patients with preschool (≤7 years) and school age (>7 years) onset were compared.
Results There were 30 children (16 girls, 14 boys) who have disease onset between 4 and 10 (mean8.1 ± 1.8) years. MS was relapsing-remitting in 29 (96.7%) and primary progressive in one (3.3%) of the patients. In patients with onset ≤7 years, motor symptoms (54.5%) and encephalopathy (45.5%) predominated, while in those with onset >7 years brainstem (42.1%), sensory (26.3%), and optic nerve (26.3%) involvement were the most frequent presentations.
Conclusions MS starting ≤7 years differs from the 7-10-year-old group by the higher rate of motor symptoms and more attacks in the first year: the latter suggests a more inflammatory character for EOMS.