How to reduce the risk of passing multiple sclerosis to your kids?

Posted on 2 April 2019 in Uncategorised

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is not a hereditary condition in the usual sense, but genes do play important role in causing it. There are more than 200 genes which can increase the risk of developing MS to a small degree. None can directly cause the condition itself, but PwMS might have combination of many of these genes.

Family members of PwMS might share some of the same genes, which will lead to a higher risk of developing MS. Many PwMS do not have a family history of the condition.

In the UK general population, about 1 in 600 people has MS.

What is the risk of passing MS to your kids?

Children of a person with MS have 2-4% lifetime chance of developing MS i.e. 96-98% chance that children won’t develop MS. This is higher than in the general population.

What can you do to reduce the risk to your kids?

  • Get prenatal care early, control diabetes if present, and control weight gain in pregnancy.
  • Ensure that children have healthy diet and avoid excess weight.
  • Pay special attention to Vitamin D levels.
  • Living in a sunnier climate as a child may reduce risk of MS.
  • Place of raising children might make a difference; the closer to the equator, the less the risk!
  • Passive smoking might increase the risk.

The lifetime risks of MS development in family members of a person with MS:

  • Identical twin – 1 in 5
  • Non-identical twin – 1 in 22
  • Other brothers or sisters – 1 in 37
  • Parent – 1 in 67

Dr Adnan Al-Araji
Consultant MS Neurologist
Clinical Director, Royal Stoke MS Centre of Excellence
Stoke on Trent, UK

Useful sources of further information: