How does paediatric MS present itself? Are the symptoms different to those seen in adults?

In this video Nat interviews Katie Hanson who is a Paediatric MS Nurse. The interview was filmed by Heather

Video transcript

How does paediatric MS present itself and are the symptoms different to those experienced by adult MSers?


So, what we’re finding is, is that actually there isn’t much difference at all.  When we look at a paediatric young person’s scan to compare to an adult scan, actually we’re kind of seeing that they both look very MS-like, the more that we are learning about it.  However, what we’re seeing with young children is – the very young children – is that actually, there’s a common neurological condition called ADEM, which stands for Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis.  That’s a common neurological condition that- it’s an acute attack of the myelin sheath and it’s normally followed by a bacterial or a viral illness.  And that can actually, the symptoms appear very similar to that of MS, so sometimes there can be a delayed diagnosis while we’re trying to figure out what it is.  And sometimes it might not be until they have a further relapse that we actually start to think that it’s MS.  And I think, the thing is, is that you don’t hear about paediatric MS a lot and it’s still quite new and – well, not new, I think it’s probably always been there – but we’re realising that that’s what it is and doctors are getting more and more knowledge about it and we’re hopefully being able to diagnose it and put those children on treatment a lot quicker.  I think the other thing to say is as well, is that in adults I think you find lots of different types of MS, so you’ve got your relapse remitting, your progressive, your primary progressive, whereas actually, with paediatrics it’s mainly just relapse remitting and the patients, or my caseload at least, are all relapse remitting and it tends to be maybe when they go to adulthood that that might change.


Okay.  And do you think, obviously with adults and MS diagnosis at times can be quite difficult because if you’re in a relapse and the relapse goes into, calms down, and so they kind of don’t think anything of it.  But adults, I guess, are more able to articulate and describe what their problems are, whereas children, it’s not so easy.  So do you find why that’s sometimes a delay in really kind of catching it or understanding if it is MS other than what you’re saying, you know, there’s kind of that confusion there?


Yeah, definitely.  I think that young people sometimes also are a little bit more resilient as well and they kind of don’t think much of things.  They’re like, oh well, actually yeah, a few days ago, couldn’t really feel my foot much, but I just got on with it, I still did PE, and whatever else and they do seem to get on with it.  [ends at 02:45]

MS Reporter Nat interviews Katie, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Great Ormond Street Hospital about how MS presents itself in children and teenagers.

Expert: Katie Hanson, Paediatric MS Nurse Specialist, Great Ormond Street Hospital
MS Reporter: Nat

This interview is part of a series called ‘Children and teenagers with MS’ which is supported by Novartis. MS Reporters™ is a production. Novartis has had no influence over the content.

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