Importance of the field: Pediatric multiple sclerosis is an acquired inflammatory, demyelinating CNS disorder associated with recurrent episodes of neurologic dysfunction. Precise diagnosis is increasingly important as disease modifying therapies have been developed in adults and introduced into pediatric practice.
Areas covered in this review: Literature published over the past two decades relating to pharmacologic treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults and children is reviewed, with emphasis on current publications.
What the reader will gain: This article reviews available research and clinical experience regarding treatment of acute episodes of CNS demyelination in children and adolescents, strategies for introduction and modification of disease-modifying therapies depending on disease course, and use of medication for symptomatic improvement in quality of life.
Take home message: Pharmacotherapy for MS has been studied in adults but to a significantly lesser extent in children or adolescents. However, children and adolescents have different biology than adults in terms of drug metabolism, immune mechanisms and incomplete maturity of CNS myelin. Effectiveness as well as long-term safety needs to be studied in children and adolescents.