Pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis (MS) may be correlated with less educational achievement, lower earnings, and greater use of disability benefits throughout the patient’s working-age lifespan, according to a study.
“This study suggests that pediatric-onset MS may have lasting consequences that translate into lower educational achievements and earnings and a greater use of disability benefits in adulthood,” the researchers wrote.
Patients with pediatric-onset MS and a matched reference cohort were evaluated using nationwide microdata from linked registers in Sweden from January 1, 1990, to December 31, 2016. Final analysis included data on 485 patients with pediatric-onset MS and 4,850 randomly selected patients without MS from the reference cohort who were matched based on age, sex, and country of birth. The main outcomes were highest educational level, income (mean annual earnings from paid work in U.S. dollars), and net annual sickness absence and disability pension days. Four age groups were established to compare earnings and days receiving disability benefits: 19 to 24 years, 25 to 34 years, 35 to 44 years, and 45 to 54 years.
The mean age of the entire group in 2016 was 32 years (interquartile range, 26-40 years), and in both cohorts, 71.8% of patients were female. Compared with the non-MS group, patients with pediatric-onset MS were less likely to attend university (odds ratio, 0.80; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.66-0.97). The MS group also had much lower annual earnings than the cohort without MS, with differences ranging from −$1,618 (95% CI, −$2,558 to −$678) in the youngest to −$10,683 (95% CI, −$18,187 to −$3,178) in the oldest age group. Disability benefits rates were higher in the MS group; the youngest age group had a rate ratio (RR) for sickness absence days of 3.06 (95% CI, 2.08-4.52), while the oldest age group had an RR for disability pension days of 1.43 (95% CI, 1.11-1.85).