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Child Neurology Consultants of Austin

Causes

MS occurs when there is damage to the myelin (protective coating surrounding nerve fibers) in the central nervous system. The damaged, or inflamed, myelin then interferes with the transmission of nerve signals between the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body.

While it is very difficult to determine the exact cause of MS in most people, some cases are thought to be caused by genetics.

Other factors that could potentially damage the central nervous system and contribute to MS or other nervous system disorders in children include:

  • Trauma
  • Infections
  • Degeneration
  • Structural defects
  • Tumors
  • Blood flow disruption
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Inborn genetic or metabolic problems
  • Toxic exposures or direct effects of drug exposures

Symptoms

MS symptoms are variable and unpredictable, and no two children’s symptoms are alike. Symptoms in patients can also fluctuate at times, or disappear altogether, while new ones crop up or others remain permanent.

The most common symptoms of nervous system disorders like MS in children are:

  • Delays in developmental milestones
  • Increase or lack of growth in head size
  • Changes in activity, reflexes, or movements
  • Lack of coordination
  • Changes in level of consciousness or mood
  • Muscle rigidity, tremors, or seizures
  • Muscle wasting and slurred speech
  • Persistent or severe headaches
  • Loss of feeling or tingling
  • Changes in vision

Diagnosis

Prior to diagnosing MS, a complete physical exam is needed to rule out any other medical conditions along with a review of your child’s family medical history. A neurological exam, and most likely an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and spinal fluid analysis (or spinal tap) may also be ordered.

An official diagnosis of MS follows evidence of damage found in at least two separate areas of the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.

Treatment

There are medications available for children to help manage their symptoms of MS. Also, a combination of physical, occupational, and/or speech therapies can be extremely beneficial. Helping your child to maintain a sense of control over their physical capabilities, to the best extent possible, is very important.

In addition, support groups and counseling can help kids navigate the emotional and social issues they might encounter as a result of MS.

(Adapted from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.)

For expert evaluation and care for central nervous system disorders like MS in children, contact Child Neurology Consultants of Austin today. Submit an appointment request online or dial (512) 494-4000. We have two offices to serve you in the Far West area of Austin and in Cedar Park.