Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most widespread disabling neurological condition of young adults around the world. You can develop MS at any age, but most people receive diagnoses between the ages of 20 and 50.
There are relapsing, remitting, and progressive types of MS, but the course is rarely predictable. Researchers still don’t fully understand the cause of MS or why
the rate of progression is so difficult to determine.
The good news is that many people living with MS don’t develop severe disabilities. Most have a normal or near-normal lifespan.
There’s no national or global registry for new MS cases. Known figures are only estimates.
Recent findings from a National MS Society study estimate nearly 1 million people in the United States are living with MS. This is more than double the last reported number, and the first national research on MS prevalence since 1975. The society also estimates that 2.3 million people live with MS globally. About 200 new cases are diagnosed each week in the United States, says the MS Discovery Forum.
The incidence of MS is also higher in colder climates. People of Northern European descent have the highest risk of developing MS, no matter where they live. Meanwhile, the lowest risk appears to be among Native Americans, Africans, and Asians. A 2013 study found only
4 to 5 percent of all diagnosed MS cases are in children.