Background: Pediatric acquired demyelinating syndromes (ADSs) are monophasic (mono-ADS) in 70% of cases and represent the first attack of multiple sclerosis (MS) in 30%. Secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) exposure has been implicated as a risk factor for adult-onset MS. Little is known about whether SHS presents an additive risk beyond genetic factors and other environmental exposures associated with pediatric MS.
Methods: This study examined SHS exposure in 216 children with mono-ADS and 81 children with MS. Interactions between SHS, HLA-DRB1*15 alleles, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and serological evidence of remote Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) exposure were evaluated.
Results: SHS exposure was more common in children with MS (37% exposed) compared to mono-ADS (29.5% exposed). Compared to mono-ADS, SHS exposure was not an independent risk factor for MS. When both SHS exposure and HLA-DRB1*15 were present, the odds for MS increased (odds ratio (OR) = 3.7; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.17-11.9) compared to mono-ADS. Interactions between SHS and vitamin D or EBV did not associate with MS.
Conclusion: Exposure to SHS is a risk factor for central nervous system (CNS) demyelination. Results suggest that SHS exposure and HLA-DRB1*15 interact to increase risk for MS in children diagnosed with mono-ADS.
Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; epidemiology.