Early Childhood Infectious Exposures Not Associated With Pediatric-Onset MS Risk

microbiology research
microbiology research
Early infectious exposures does not appear to influence risk of pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis.

A study recently published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders found no association between early infectious exposures and risk for pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis (MS). These infectious exposures included vaccinations, antibiotic use, daycare, and contact with germs via pacifiers and playtime outside on grass.

Viral infections early in life have been shown to contribute to several autoimmune disorders, including celiac and Crohn disease. This study sought to determine any association between common childhood infectious exposures and risk of developing MS.

The study researchers included 326 children (63.5% female, mean age 14.9) with either MS or clinically isolated syndrome in this case-control study, whose diagnoses were confirmed by a minimum of 2 pediatric MS specialists. The control group consisted of 506 healthy children (56.9% female, mean age 14.4).

A questionnaire completed by parents provided information on the children’s early infectious exposures, sicknesses, and habits through age 5.

Multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to determine association between early infectious factors and diagnosis, with adjustments for race, age, ethnicity, sex, place of birth, and socioeconomic status.

Although unadjusted analyses showed flu with high fever (=.01), scabies or head lice treatment with products (=.04), and playtime on grass (=.04) to correlate with a higher risk for MS, adjusted multivariable analysis showed no statistical significance. Additionally, attending daycare before age 6 (=.09) and early use of antibiotics (=.22) showed no statistical correlation with risk for MS.

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The study researchers conclude that “[early] infectious exposures, as determined by patient history, did not appear to have influence on MS risk.”


Suleiman L, Waubant E, Aaen G, et al; on behalf of the Network of Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Centers. Early infectious exposures are not associated with increased risk of pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis [published online March 26, 2018]. Mult Scler Relat Disord. doi: 10.1016/j.msard.2018.03.015