I wanted to conduct my own research on what the early care was for people diagnosed with MS? I’ve broken it down into 3 main choices: 1. one child with one primary care giver, 2. one child with multiple care givers, 3. multiple care givers with multiple children. I wanted to see if the results showed any trend on those eventually diagnosed with MS. We know that stress is something that brings on relapses, but I am interested in the effect of stress on a still developing babies brain. I would be grateful if you could write back specifying 1, 2 or 3 for your early care, that is the first 5 years of life. Thank you.

I’m not sure I do. Are you thinking there is a connection with stress in childhood-dependent on number of care givers. Who then go on to be diagnosed with ms?


Hardly going to spot a meaningful “trend” by asking people on a forum, anyway. That is not scientific research.

And also we don’t know that stress brings on relapses. Anecdotally, some people feel so, but there’s no scientific evidence for it whatsoever. I’m very sceptical of stress as a causative factor at all - let alone below age five.

I think the single biggest causative factor for me was that it was already in the family - though I didn’t know it at the time I was diagnosed. I don’t think I had some stress or trauma that caused it - in childhood, or at any age. I think there were some risky genes circulating in the family, and I was the lucky winner. The genes by themselves would not have caused MS, otherwise many more members of my family (people with similar genes to me) would have got it. So there has to be something else. But I don’t believe it has anything to do with how many carers you had as an infant. I’m the eldest child of three. If infant stress (and that’s a big IF in itself) was a function of number of children versus resources available to care for them, my brother and sister should hypothetically have been more stressed - parental attention now divided between three children!

So why would it be me (only child for the first four years) who ended up with MS? Shouldn’t the last child (having to compete with two others) be most at risk?

i’m the same as tina, eldest of 3 and only child for 4 years.

also don’t quite understand what you are asking for.

never experienced stress until long after i’d left home.

carole x

1 Like

Hi, I realise that this is not going to be meaningful scientific research. I just wanted to get some ideas from others diagnosed with MS. I was asking because there is no evidence of MS in my large family, both maternal and paternal, although other conditions are found. I am the middle of 3 siblings and they haven’t got MS just me in my family. Just a personal question as I am trying to find out more.

Just my own personal thoughts. There is no evidence but I was just trying to find out if there could be by hearing from others diagnosed.

Ok susie. Sorry I can’t help


Hi Susie,

If I’m honest, I don’t think you will find anything - by asking others, or even in academic research. The cause of MS has never been found. That is the holy grail, because to find a cure (or prevention), we’d need to understand what is causing it in the first place - but we don’t.

I’ve never seen any research pointing to number of siblings in infancy having anything to do with it. And if it was, shouldn’t MS prevalence have been much higher when people were (in general) poorer, but had ten or twelve children? Those children should, in theory, have been more “stressed” (more competition for both care and resources), so why wasn’t there much higher incidence of MS?

Instead, incidence is higher NOW. Personally, I think the underlying rate has probably remained pretty static - it’s just that we’ve got much better at diagnosisng. I don’t think there’s been an “epidemic” of MS in our time, but people in past times couldn’t diagnose it, or until recently didn’t even have a name for it. But I reckon it’s always been there.

MS is not hereditary - four in five people affected don’t have a blood relative with MS, but one in five do - which is much higher than chance, and tells us there is a genetic connection, but not direct heredity.

It may be relevant that other members of the family have other disorders. I believe Type 1 diabetes is statistically linked, Crohn’s disease may be, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As I understand it, more people with MS have one of these conditions in the family than should be the case by chance alone. Oh, and rheumatoid arthritis - some link there, too!

Season of birth, but NOT number of siblings has been linked to risk of MS. In the Western Hemisphere, Spring babies are most at risk, with the peak month being May. In Australia, the peak month is November (the corresponding month of their Spring). The theory is that this is linked with how much Vitamin D the mother gets during pregnancy. Spring babies have been carried through the Winter months, when there is less sunlight, and less chance of making Vitamin D (some is obtainable from diet, but sunlight is still the chief source).

MS risk also increases with distance from the equator, which again points to a sunlight/Vitamin D connection. If you live where the sun is always strong, you’re not so likely to get MS as if you live in Scotland or Canada!

But honestly, if you manage to get a definite answer, it’ll be more than anyone in the whole history of MS research has managed. There’s nothing to suggest it’s to do with childhood “stress” - including sibling competition. Do you feel you were particularly “stressed” as a child? If you were, that’s sad, but very unlikely to have anything to do with your MS now - in other words it’s not some failing of yours OR your parents or carers. Even if they couldn’t cope for some reason, it doesn’t mean they caused your MS.