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A new study has found that children with multiple sclerosis (MS) who exercise regularly may experience milder or fewer symptoms than inactive children with MS.

The autoimmune disease is less common in children than in adults; between 2% and 10% of MS patients are children. However, children often present with more severe symptoms than adults.

“Up to three-quarters of children with MS experience depression, tiredness, or memory and thinking impairment,” said lead author Dr. E. Ann Yeh. “Our research is important since little is known regarding how lifestyle behaviors may affect the disease.”

The researchers looked at 110 patients between the ages of 5 and 18 with MS. 45% of these children reported participating in strenuous activity. The researchers provided questionnaires, evaluated symptom severity, and used MRI brain scans on some children to examine brain volume and MS lesions.

Children who exercised regularly had considerably lower density of brain lesions that children who did not exercise, the research team found. Exercisers also experience a median 0.5 relapses annually, compared to one per year.

Do you or someone you know have multiple sclerosis? See if you qualify for NBCRA’s clinical research study on MS today!