Kids Health Matters: Pediatric multiple sclerosis

EMBED </>More Videos

Multiple sclerosis is thought to affect more than two million people worldwide and while unusual, it can affect teens and children. (WPVI)

Multiple sclerosis is thought to affect more than two million people worldwide and while unusual, it can affect teens and children.

At 16, Allison Reed is already a veteran performer, with big dreams.

"I would love to do musical theater, up on Broadway maybe," says Allison.

Two years ago, she landed an unexpected role.

"I had tingling on my feet and all up the backs of my legs," she says.

Allison's mom, Melinda Reed said, "I simply thought she just pinched a nerve."

However, a battery of tests revealed she had multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Brenda Banwell of Children's Hospital says MS is unusual in children and teens, though it does occur.

"The youngest patient I diagnosed was 2," she says.

Up to 5% of all MS patients have their first attack under the age of 18.

In MS, the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves.

Symptoms for kids are similar to adults and medications are similar.

But, kids can face more emotional struggles and nearly a third develop depression.

"We encourage families to talk and to talk right from the beginning," says Dr. Banwell.

Allison says going to camps with other young MS patients has been a huge help.

"It was actually really good for me to learn more about it, how other people were dealing with it," she adds.

And now, she is sharing word of her condition with classmates and friends to spread awareness of MS.

Allison adds, "It's like another part of me, but it's not who I am."

Dr. Banwell says young patients must work hard now, to prevent permanent disability down the road.

But, it can be done, and new medications that could help are in the pipeline.

She says kids with MS can and do, live active lives, just like their peers.


Related Topics:
healthKids Health Matterschildren
(Copyright ©2017 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.)