Background: Patients with early onset multiple sclerosis may develop disability at a younger age than adults. There are several reports about safety of beta interferons in childhood and juvenile MS with different doses.
Objectives: To determine safety and efficacy of substandard dose of intramuscular interferon beta-1a in a prospective randomized trial in patients with multiple sclerosis under the age of 16.
Methods: Sixteen patients were divided into two groups randomly. The first group was treated with intramuscular interferon beta-1a 15 micrograms once a week and the second group received no disease-modifying therapy.
Results: The patients were followed for four years. There was no significant side effect and none of the treated patients discontinued the drug. There were significant differences between two groups regarding relapse rates (p = 0.04), disability progression (p = 0.01), and new T2 lesions (p = 0.006).
Conclusion: Treatment with interferon beta-1a is well tolerated for a long period of time and may be effective in substandard doses in early onset multiple sclerosis.