Childhood MS

Historically MS has been viewed as an adult-onset disease and as a result most MS research, services and support programmes have targeted adults.

Since the 1980s, however, an increasing number of cases of MS have been recorded in children under 18 years old. Initial symptoms have been seen as early as 13 months, with diagnosis as young as two years. Now, thanks to raised awareness of childhood MS amongst neurologists and because of advances in technology, the number of children diagnosed with MS is steadily growing.

Nevertheless, as neurologists so rarely encounter childhood MS, diagnosis may be delayed or more difficult than for adult-onset disease.

Because treatments have not been systematically studied, tested or approved for children, childhood MS is often treated in the same way as adult MS. This has highlighted the need for increased international collaboration and multi-centre studies on paediatric MS and related disorders.

The International Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Study Group

The International Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Study Group (IPMSSG) is a global network of adult and paediatric neurologists, basic scientists, clinicians, representatives of MS societies and other organisations, whose unifying vision is to optimise worldwide healthcare, education and research in paediatric MS and other acquired inflammatory demyelinating disorders of the central nervous system.

MSIF and several of its member societies have been providing organisational and financial support to the IPMSSG since its establishment in April 2006. In this capacity, MSIF leads on facilitating and coordinating all official communication between the study group members and committees, drafting official documents, maintaining contacts databases and developing group mailing lists and surveys. We have also developed and continue to maintain an IPMSSG website (, through which members can stay up-to-date on current developments of the study group.