Does having MS affect your children?

Razaz N, Tremlett H, Boyce WT, Guhn M, Joseph K, Marrie RA. Impact of parental multiple sclerosis on early childhood development: A retrospective cohort study. Mult Scler. 2015. pii: 1352458514559298. [Epub ahead of print]

BACKGROUND:Exposure to parental chronic illness is associated with several adverse developmental outcomes.
OBJECTIVES: We examined the association between parental multiple sclerosis (MS) and childhood developmental outcomes.
METHODS: We conducted a population-based retrospective cohort study in Manitoba, Canada, using linked databases. The outcome was childhood development at 5 years of age, expressed as vulnerability (absent vs. present) on the Early Development Instrument (EDI).
RESULTS: Children with an MS parent (n=153) were similar to children of unaffected parents (n=876) on all EDI domains. 

However, mental health problems was more common among MS parents compared with non-MS parents 49.5% vs. 35.3%. Among MS parents, mental health problems was associated with children’s vulnerability on the social competence (OR, 5.73 [95% CI:1.11-29.58]) and emotional maturity (OR, 3.03 [95% CI:1.03-8.94]) domains. The duration of child’s exposure to parental MS was associated with vulnerability on the physical health domain (OR, 1.49 [95%CI:1.03-2.15]).
CONCLUSION: Parental MS was not associated with adverse early childhood developmental outcomes. However, children of parents with mental health problems, and those with longer duration of exposure to parental MS, were at higher risk for early childhood developmental vulnerability.

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is a questionnaire developed by Dr. Dan Offord and Dr. Magdalena Janus at McMaster University. The questionnaire has 104 questions and measures five core areas of early child development that are known to be good predictors of adult health, education and social outcomes:

Physical Health & Well-Being. Sample EDI questions: Can the child hold a pencil? Is the child on time for school each day?

Language & Cognitive Development.Sample EDI questions: Is the child interested in reading and writing? Can the child count and recognize numbers?

Social Competence.Sample EDI questions: Does the child share with others? Is the child self-confident? Will he/she invite bystanders to join in a game?

Emotional Maturity.Sample EDI questions: Is the child able to concentrate? Is the child aggressive or angry? Is the child impulsive (does he/she act without thinking)?

Communication Skills & General Knowledge.Sample EDI questions: Can the child tell a short story? Can the child communicate with adults and children?

Definition of child vulnerability is statistical and population based.It refers to the portion of the population which, without additional support and care, may experience future challenges in school and society.

The positive is that having MS does not mean an adverse effect on your kids.

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1 comment

  • I suppose the worry is that children of MSers will grow up to be future carers for a disease parent.

    To be honest, more has to be invested in better home care strategies. The need for social care is the biggest crisis facing Britain, yet we don't like talking about it. The population is out of control. Old folks are living longer. Progressive MSers are living longer and developing even more complicated health issues. All this needs greater money to handle.

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