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Who Gets MS?

Anyone may develop MS, but there are some patterns.

  • Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50.
  • Twice as many women as men have MS.
  • Studies indicate that genetic factors make certain individuals more susceptible than others, but there is no evidence that MS is directly inherited.
  • MS occurs more commonly among people with northern European ancestry, but people of African, Asian, and Hispanic backgrounds are not immune.

Approximately 400,000 Americans acknowledge having MS, and every week about 200 people are diagnosed. Worldwide, MS may affect 2.5 million individuals.

Early Onset
MS diagnosis before age 21—5% of those with MS

MS is usually considered a disease that adults get, but is occasionally diagnosed in children.

Read more about Pediatric (Childhood) MS and a support network for families

Late Onset
MS diagnosis after age 50—9.4% of those with MS

Read more about the late onset of MS


For more information

  • Epidemiology
    Study of disease patterns that takes into account variations in geography, demographics, socioeconomic status, genetics, and infectious causes

  • Genetics: An overiew
    Population studies and new techiques for determining genetics factors of MS

  • Genetics: The Basic Facts
    Basic facts about MS and heredity
Last updated October 17, 2007