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Multiple sclerosis relapse linked to fatty diets in children study finds

Children with multiple sclerosis are at an increased risk of relapse with a fatty diet but a high vegetable intake may halve the risk of relapse, a study has found.

Children with multiple sclerosis are at an increased risk of relapse with a fatty diet but a high vegetable intake may halve the risk of relapse, a study has found.


Fatty diets were found to have a 10% contribution towards multiple sclerosis relapse. Picture: iStock

Carried out at 11 centres in the United States with 219 patients, findings revealed that with every 10% increase in energy intake from fat amplified a relapse by 56%. But every cup of vegetables eaten was associated with a halving in the risk of having a relapse.

The study defined relapses as new or recurrent neurological symptoms localising to the central nervous system, lasting for at least 24 hours after a remission of 30 days or more since the previous attack in the absence of an infection or fever.

Preliminary findings

Until now the role of diet in MS relapse has been largely unexplored. This study included patients up to the age of 18 who have relapsing-remitting MS or clinically isolated syndrome for less than four years.

Results were compiled from a questionnaire. Either children or their carers logged the food and drinks consumed in one week and their neurological health was tracked until the next relapse occurred.

Despite the findings, the authors concluded that the further work is needed to establish a definite correlation between diet and MS relapse in children but there is preliminary evidence for making dietary recommendations.

Kathryn Fitzgerald of the neurology department at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Blatimore said there was some existing evidence for consumption of fish oil: 'Ultimately, the role of the diet in MS is an actively evolving area of research that will be further enriched by complementary evidence derived from a combination of interventional as well as high-quality longitudinal observational studies.'


Azary S, Schreiner T, Graves J (2017) Contribution of dietary intake to relapse rate in early paediatric multiple sclerosis. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. doi:10.1136/jnnp-2017- 315936

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