(HealthDay News) – Childhood obesity is associated with an increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) or clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) in adolescent girls, according to research published online Jan. 30 in Neurology.

Annette Langer-Gould, MD, PhD, of Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) in Pasadena, and colleagues evaluated the association between childhood obesity and the risk of pediatric MS or CIS. Body mass index was obtained before symptom onset for cases and through the KPSC Children’s health study for the underlying cohort.

The researchers identified 75 newly diagnosed cases of MS or CIS, 55% of which were in girls. In girls, but not boys, obesity correlated with a significantly increased risk of MS/CIS. Compared with normal-weight girls, the adjusted odds ratio for CIS/MS was 1.58 for overweight, 1.78 for moderately obese, and 3.76 for extremely obese. Compared with overweight and normal-weight children, moderately and extremely overweight cases were significantly more likely to present with transverse myelitis.

“The results of this study provide risk estimates that clearly show a strong association between increasing weight class and the risk of pediatric MS/CIS,” the authors write. “These findings suggest that the risk of pediatric MS/CIS is highest among moderately and extremely obese teenage girls, implying that the incidence of pediatric MS/CIS is likely to increase as the childhood obesity epidemic continues.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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