Menarche increases relapse risk in pediatric multiple sclerosis

Mult Scler. 2016 Feb;22(2):193-200. doi: 10.1177/1352458515581873. Epub 2015 May 6.


Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) predominantly affects women with a sex ratio of 3:1 in contrast with a 1:1 sex ratio seen in pre-pubertal onset. Thus, puberty may influence MS risk differentially in males and females. How puberty may be associated with MS clinical features and disease course remains unknown.

Objective: The objective of this paper is to determine the association of menarche with disease course in girls with MS.

Methods: This is a longitudinal retrospective study from the UCSF Regional Pediatric MS Center database. We categorized patients by time of disease onset: pre-menarche, peri-menarche and post-menarche. Poisson regression models were used for within-subject relapse analyses offset by follow-up time.

Results: Seventy-six girls were included (pre-menarche onset = 17; peri-menarche onset = 9; post-menarche onset = 50). Age of menarche was similar in all groups (Kruskal-Wallis p = 0.19). Relapse rate was the same in all three groups during the first two years of follow-up. In girls with follow-up overlapping at least two time periods, within-subject analyses showed increased relapses during the peri-menarche compared to post-menarche period (adjusted IRR = 8.5, 95% CI 2.5-28.7, p = 0.001).

Conclusion: Pubertal status may influence MS course at least in female patients. Understanding how puberty influences MS clinical features may offer new insights into important factors regulating disease processes.

Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; outcome measurement; relapsing–remitting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Menarche*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / physiopathology*
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk