Multiple sclerosis in children is the last thing I'd think would ever happen. Cir has often said he would not wish MS on his worst enemy. When I first heard about MS in little children, I was shocked. Having to deal with the effects of MS as a young adult, developing it between 20 and 40 is hard enough. Having to deal with it at an even younger age has to be even more devastating.
As far as I'm concerned, a child should never have to deal with the uncertainties of such a potentially disabling disease. And to think the youngest known case was about 2 years old. How terrible is that?
I can imagine the parents of older children with multiple sclerosis dealing with their own feelings, let alone a very young child or teen. Feelings of guilt – wondering what I did to cause my child to have MS. I know I would feel this way if one of my children came to me and told me they have multiple sclerosis.
After learning more about multiple sclerosis, though, it's almost hit or miss whether your child will get MS. Genetic factors may be a cause for some cases of multiple sclerosis in a child, but environmental factors may also be part of the reason.
Cir and I have asked the doctor more than once, what chance our children have of getting MS. The first few times he assured us that we had nothing to worry about. Multiple sclerosis in children with a parent who had MS is only slightly higher than in the general population.
The last time we asked about it, he had been doing a sort of study. He had been checking the vitamin d levels of several of his patients. He told us that most of the patients with MS had very low levels of vitamin d.
He suggested, just to be on the safe side, that we encourage our children to take vitamin d supplements. He suggested that I take it also, because I have family members who also have multiple sclerosis.
Our two oldest children are 25 and 23. They have not had any symptoms that we know of, at least they haven't told us of any. Our youngest daughter is 14, (almost 15) and we watch her closely.
I don't believe we're being paranoid. We know so much about the disease at this point that it's easy to see others who have it, too.
We have always tried to do the things that are healthy. Eating well, taking vitamins. Trying to stay at a healthy weight. Trying not to eat so many sweets (that's a really hard one). Avoiding processed foods.
Most of this we did after first suspecting and then learning that Cir had MS. Hoping that if he kept up healthy lifestyle habits, the multiple sclerosis wouldn't progress as quickly.
As youngsters, our children developed a sense of what was healthy. They now remind us of the things they learned from us. I'm not saying they didn't stray along the way. We all have. But for the most part we end up back where we started. Trying to make the healthiest choices.
If you know that MS is a possibility in your family, I would begin now to make a difference. Although scientists and doctors don't know the answers for sure, what hurt can it do?
If you live in a temperate climate, supplement with vitamin D3, especially in the colder months. We were lucky enough to have lots of sunshine this summer of '08. We took advantage of it every moment we could.
Cir's MS started around the age of 16. A study in Europe showed that the average age of multiple sclerosis in children was around 14 years. Before age 12 boys are more likely to show signs of MS. Girls were more likely to be diagnosed with the disease after age 12. Which is also the case in adults.
Another thing they found was that children with MS took at least 10 years before they started having trouble with walking. But because multiple sclerosis in children starts about 20 years earlier, they also had a tendency to have more disability at an earlier age.
To read more about Multiple Sclerosis in Children - Part 2, click the link.