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A study by the Menzies Research Institute involved a survey of 400 people. Researchers concluded that the risk of multiple sclerosis was reduced by up to 88% in people who spent more time with sisters or brothers under two years of age. A 43% risk reduction was observed in people who, during their first six years, had one to three years of contact with younger siblings. A 60% risk reduction was observed in people who had three to five years of younger sibling contact and an 88% risk reduction was observed in people who had at least five years of younger sibling contact. The risk reduction effect was cumulative. Other studies have shown that risk factors for multiple sclerosis include having had glandular fever and a high level of antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus. It was noted in the new study that subjects who had spent time with younger siblings were less prone to glandular fever and increased Epstein-Barr antibodies. The reason for the benefits observed in those who spend time with younger siblings may be due to their increased exposure to illnesses and hence an increased development of the immune system. A healthier immune system reduces the risk of allergies and autoimmune disorders. The onset of multiple sclerosis is usually between 20 and 50 years of age and is detected through MRI scans. The prevalence in Tasmania is 75,000 per 100,000 people.
Source: summary of medical news story as reported by The Mercury
About: Multiple sclerosis inhibited in those with greater exposure to younger siblings
Date: 27 January 2005
Source: The Mercury
Author: Michelle Paine
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