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Late Disease Onset (After Age 50)

From The MS Information Sourcebook, produced by the National MS Society.

The majority of people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. However, late onset of multiple sclerosis—after age 50—appears to be more common than originally thought. In a study among 838 individuals with MS (Noseworthy et al. Multiple sclerosis after age 50. Neurology 1983; 33:1537-1544), 9.4% experienced their first symptoms after the age of 50. In this study, the initial symptoms and subsequent course of the older patients were characterized by slow deterioration of motor function. Progression of disability was found to be more rapid than in younger patients.

Because of other medical problems that affect older people, MS may be overlooked, accounting for a significant number of misdiagnosed cases.

Whether there is a difference in prognosis—predicted course of the disease—for those with late onset of MS, remains controversial.

See also...



Society Web Resources


Holland NJ, Murray TJ, Reingold SC. Multiple Sclerosis: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed (2nd ed.) New York: Demos Medical Publishing, 2002.

Kalb R. (ed.) Multiple Sclerosis: The Questions You Have; The Answers You Need (3rd ed.). New York: Demos Medical Publishing, 2004.
—Ch. 2 Neurology




Last updated October 2005