Concussion in teenagers increases the risk of multiple sclerosis in later life. However, there is no association with multiple sclerosis for concussion in younger children.
The results have demonstrated how important it is to protect teenagers from head injuries.
The study was published in the Annals of Neurology and it comes from a collaborative study between Örebro University and Karolinska Institutet, which showed concussion in adolescence increased the risk of multiple sclerosis in later life by 22% for one concussion, and teenagers who experienced two or more concussions were at more than a doubled risk of multiple sclerosis ( 133% ).
But not all teenagers run the same risk: Multiple sclerosis is caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental exposures.
Most of the young people who experience a head trauma should not worry as they will not carry the necessary genes and other risks that will result in multiple sclerosis in later life.
The researchers used medical records to identify concussion treated in hospital among children from birth to age 10 years; and in adolescence from ages 11 to 20.
The risk of multiple sclerosis in later adulthood was examined for these two groups.
The concussion among adolescents can indicate the processes that cause the body’s immune system to attack the insulating layer of nerve cells which, over time, prevents them from functioning correctly.
Differences in the way the brain is developing in childhood and adolescence may explain why concussion in these two age groups does not carry the same risk of subsequent multiple sclerosis.
Accoding to researchers, people should consider ways to reduce the risk of head injury, especially repeated head injuries, when participating in sport.
The next step is to investigate genetic influences, including how genes interact with other factors to determine multiple sclerosis risk. This includes looking at how genes influence the risk of multiple sclerosis associated with concussion in adolescence, as well as examining other exposures among teenagers, such as infections. ( Xagena )
Source: Annals of Neurology, 2017