Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO)
MS and NMO are autoimmune diseases where the body's immune system reacts against itself and attacks its own healthy cells and tissue. Specifically, the immune system attacks the central nervous system’s myelin, the protective coating around nerve cells. Attacks on myelin create areas of inflammation throughout the central nervous system, which slow or interrupt the flow of information that move via the nerve cells, resulting in MS symptoms.
There are several different types of multiple sclerosis (MS):
- Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS): Most children with MS are diagnosed with this type. It’s also the most common form of MS. People with RRMS will have attacks (relapses) of symptoms that go away and come back later.
- Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS): People with this type of MS have chronic symptoms that steadily get worse over time.
- Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS): With this type of MS, symptoms steadily get worse. Most people who have RRMS eventually develop SPMS.
While MS is more often diagnosed in adults between the ages of 20 and 40, children can also develop the autoimmune disease. NMO presents more commonly in childhood.