Medical News Today reported that MS may be caused by head trauma in adolescence. This article comes from the results of a research paper from Sweden and provides the base of these findings, with professor S. Montgomery as the senior author.
Researchers consulted the national hospital register in Sweden to obtain patients with the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. They also consulted the Multiple Sclerosis registers to crosscheck the MS diagnosis. Among the study population of 80,212 they found 7,292 patients with multiple sclerosis. It included people born in 1964 up to 2012. Next researchers correlated the diagnosis of head concussion and a control diagnosis of limb fracture to the diagnosis of MS. A further division of diagnosis of head concussion followed. It consisted of two groups: a group from birth until the age of 10 and a second group from age 11 to 20.
Results of the study showing MS may be caused by head trauma
- The first finding was that head trauma from birth to age 10 or having experienced limb fractures in that time period did not cause MS in adults.
- The striking finding on the other hand was that head concussions in adolescence did produce MS later in adult life. Following one head concussion the risk was 1.22-fold. But more than one concussion in adolescence showed an increase to a 2.33-fold risk to cause MS later in adult life. A comparison of these values to a group with no concussion history followed. This group, which did not experience a concussion injury, did not develop MS later in adult life.
Discussion of results
Dr. Montgomery commented on these findings: “Head trauma in adolescence, particularly repeated head trauma, is shows a connection with a raised risk of future multiple sclerosis. This is possibly due to initiation of an autoimmune process in the central nervous system.”
These findings are significant, especially in view of the fact that recently head concussions at a younger age have shown an association with dementia later in life.
Parents should assess what type of sports activities they should allow their children to participate in. Due to the inherent risk football and rugby should not be on top of that list.
First we heard that closed head trauma could be the cause of dementia (brain concussions). Now we are learning thatMS may be caused by head trauma in adolescence also. Closed head trauma in adolescence can cause not only dementia, but also multiple sclerosis (MS) in adult life. Dr. Montgomery, the head researcher of this Swedish study, thinks that a head concussion initiates an autoimmune process in the brain that eventually could lead to MS. We need to re-think how our adolescents grow up and what sports activities they should engage in. Although an active life style is healthy, sports activities that lead to closed head trauma are not on the desirable list.