Background: There is a need for follow-up studies of the familial situation of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.
Objectives: To evaluate the probability of MS patients to remain in marriage or relationship with the same partner after onset of MS in comparison with the population.
Patients and methods: All 2538 Danes with onset of MS 1980-1989, retrieved from the Danish MS-Registry, and 50,760 matched and randomly drawn control persons were included. Information on family status was retrieved from Statistics Denmark. Cox analyses were used with onset as starting point.
Results: Five years after onset, the cumulative probability of remaining in the same relationship was 86% in patients vs. 89% in controls. The probabilities continued to deviate, and at 24 years, the probability was 33% in patients vs. 53% in the control persons (p < 0.001). Among patients with young onset (< 36 years of age), those with no children had a higher risk of divorce than those having children less than 7 years (Hazard Ratio 1.51; p < 0.0001), and men had a higher risk of divorce than women (Hazard Ratio 1.33; p < 0.01).
Conclusion: MS significantly affects the probability of remaining in the same relationship compared with the background population.