Recovery From Central Nervous System Acute Demyelination in Children

Pediatrics. 2015 Jul;136(1):e115-23. doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-0028. Epub 2015 Jun 1.


Background: Few prospective studies have systematically evaluated the extent of recovery from incident acquired demyelinating syndromes (ADS) of the central nervous system in children.

Methods: In a national cohort study of pediatric ADS, severity of the incident attack and extent of recovery by 12 months were evaluated. Annual evaluations were used to determine current diagnoses (monophasic ADS or multiple sclerosis [MS]) and new deficits.

Results: Of 283 children, 244 (86%) required hospitalization for a median (interquartile range [IQR]) of 6 (3-10) days, and 184 had moderate or severe deficits; 41 children were profoundly encephalopathic, 129 were unable to ambulate independently, and 59 with optic neuritis (ON) had moderately or severely impaired vision. Those with transverse myelitis (TM) and patients with monophasic disease were more likely to have moderate or severe deficits at onset. Twenty-seven children (10%) did not experience full neurologic recovery from their incident attack; 12 have severe residual deficits. Monophasic illness, TM, and moderate or severe deficits at onset were associated with poor recovery. After a median (IQR) follow-up of 5.06 (3.41-6.97) years, 59 children (21%) were diagnosed with MS; all recovered fully from their incident ADS attacks, although 6 subsequently acquired irreversible deficits after a median (IQR) observation period of 5.93 (4.01-7.02) years.

Conclusions: ADS is a serious illness, with 86% of affected Canadian children requiring hospitalization. More than 90% of children recovered physically from their ADS event, including those children experiencing onset of MS. However, permanent visual or spinal cord impairment occurred in some children with ON or TM.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Demyelinating Autoimmune Diseases, CNS / diagnosis*
  • Demyelinating Autoimmune Diseases, CNS / physiopathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Retrospective Studies