Fifty years ago Multiple Sclerosis was virtually unheard of. Today, there are approximately 2.5 million people worldwide afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis. According to the National MS Society, 200 people are diagnosed with the disease every day.
Multiple Sclerosis is most commonly diagnosed in people between 20 and 50 years of age. However, 5 % of MS patients are under the age of 21, and many people who are diagnoses later show symptoms as early as 15 or 16 years of age. There are several cases of children diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Approximately 10% of all those with MS received there diagnosis after the age of 50. The youngest person with Multiple Sclerosis was diagnoses at the age of 10 years.
People of any ethnic group can develop Multiple Sclerosis, but it is more common in those of Northern European decent. MS does develop in Americans of African, Asian, and Hispanic decent, although it is very rare.
According the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation, Canada has the highest prevalence of MS in the world, with 240 diagnosed cases of MS per every 100,000 people. This is followed by Germany, with 149 cases per 100,000 people. The United States, Poland, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Great Britain and Norway average 97.5 – 143.5 documented cases per 100,000 people. India has the lowest incidence of Multiple Sclerosis in the entire world, with 3 confirmed cases per 100,000 people.
Worldwide, women are 50% more likely to develop Multiple Sclerosis than men.
Multiple Sclerosis is not directly inherited, a parent with MS cannot pass it on to their children. There have been documented cases of identical twins where one twin develops Multiple Sclerosis and the other does not. However, it has been shown that a person is more likely to develop the disease if a close relative also has it. Medical scientists think there may be a genetic predisposition to the development of Multiple Sclerosis.