Pediatric Neurology (Harvey Singer, Section Editor)

Current Treatment Options in Neurology

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 544-559

First online:

Current Therapeutic Options in Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis

  • E. Ann YehAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, Division of Child Neurology, Pediatric MS Center of the JNI, SUNY Buffalo, Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo Email author 

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Opinion statement

Therapies for relapsing-remitting pediatric multiple sclerosis (MS) are aimed at preventing relapses (disease modifying therapies), treating acute attacks, and managing disabling cognitive and physical symptoms. Initial disease modifying therapy to prevent relapses should use one of four first-line injectable therapies that are approved for adult relapsing-remitting MS: interferon beta 1a IM, interferon beta 1a SC, interferon beta 1b SC, or glatiramer acetate. If breakthrough disease occurs or the medication is poorly tolerated, the next step should be to try one of the other first-line therapies. If the first-line therapies have been exhausted, second-line therapies such as natalizumab, cyclophosphamide, or mitoxantrone may be considered. One must use caution when choosing these potent therapies, as secondary effects may include serious infection or malignancy. Phase III studies in adult MS have been published on two oral agents, fingolimod and cladribine, and fingolimod has received FDA approval for use in relapsing-remitting MS in adults. These drugs have not been evaluated in the pediatric MS population, nor have any of three other oral agents now in phase III development: laquinimod, BG-12, and teriflunomide. Acute relapses can be treated with pulse methylprednisolone at a dosage of 20 to 30 mg/kg per day (maximum 1 g per day) for 3 to 5 days. If this is ineffective, intravenous immunoglobulin (2 g/kg divided over 2–5 days) or plasmapheresis may be considered. Neuropsychological, physical therapy, and occupational therapy screening should be performed on patients with pediatric MS. Interventions focusing on visual motor integration may be particularly useful in this group Spasticity may be treated with symptomatic therapies, but one must be aware of potential adverse effects of agents such as baclofen and diazepam. Headache, fatigue, anxiety, and depression are frequently seen, and patients may need a psychiatry consultation and counseling.