Socioeconomic factors in childhood and the risk of multiple sclerosis

Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Jun 1;177(11):1289-95. doi: 10.1093/aje/kws350. Epub 2013 May 9.


In a national cohort comprising 1.5 million Danes born from 1966 to 1992, we studied the association between childhood socioeconomic status (SES) and the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) from 1981 to 2007 using information about household income and parental educational levels at the person's 15th birthday. The association between childhood SES and MS was evaluated using MS incidence rate ratios with 95% confidence intervals obtained in log-linear Poisson regression analyses. We found no strong association between childhood SES and MS but did observe a tendency toward a reduced risk of MS among children from households with more highly educated parents, particularly mothers. Children whose mothers had a secondary (rate ratio = 0.95, 95% confidence interval: 0.86, 1.04) or higher (rate ratio = 0.86, 95% confidence interval: 0.76, 0.97) education had reduced risks of MS (5% and 14%, respectively) compared with children of mothers with a basic education (P for trend = 0.02). Results were practically unchanged in an analysis restricted to persons aged 15-29 years, among whom the possible effect of own SES on MS risk is considered limited. Overall, SES in childhood seems of no major importance for the subsequent risk of MS; however, offspring of well-educated mothers may be at a slightly reduced risk of MS.

Keywords: childhood; multiple sclerosis; parental education; socioeconomic status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Registries*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult