Mononucleosis, which many simply refer to as “mono” or the “kissing disease,” may be the reason some people develop multiple sclerosis later in life. A team in Sweden finds this common infection among children and teens significantly increases the risk of developing MS as an adult.
Doctors have been diagnosing cases of MS since the 19th century. The autoimmune disease tends to develop slowly, eating away at the protective covering around a patient’s nerves — the myelin sheath. This causes many — sometimes debilitating — symptoms including pain, fatigue, and a decline in motor function.
Previous research has examined whether genes which put someone at higher risk for multiple sclerosis makes them more susceptible to other severe infections. The new study, however, looked at the connection between infections and the eventual development of multiple sclerosis.
“Some scientists have suggested that infections like glandular fever (also called infectious mononucleosis “mono” or “kissing disease”) might be worse in people who will go on to develop MS because their immune system is already different,” writes study author Scott Montgomery from University College London in an article in The Conversation. “But another explanation – the one that our study investigated – is that the infection triggers MS.” . . .
Study authors say these infections during childhood may get into the brain, where MS does its damage as well. Although the most at risk for multiple sclerosis are between 11 and 15 years-old, researchers say many won’t receive an MS diagnosis until they reach their 30s. (Read more from “Catching ‘Kissing Disease’ as a Teen Linked to Future MS Diagnosis” HERE)
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