A study of how diet can affect the course of multiple sclerosis (MS) in children has found that a fatty diet could increase the risk of relapse.
The study, “Contribution of dietary intake to relapse rate in early paediatric multiple sclerosis”, was published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry and found there was a 56% higher chance of a relapse for every 10% increase in energy intake from fat.
Researchers conducted the study across 11 paediatric MS centres in the USA. Patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) or clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) with disease onset before 18 years of age and duration of less than four years were included in this study. Dietary intake during the week before enrolment was assessed and the outcome of the study was based upon the time from enrolment to the next relapse. 219 patients with paediatric RRMS or CIS were enrolled.
Although each 10% increase in energy intake from fat increased the hazard of relapse by 56%, a 10% increase in saturated fat in particular was found to triple the risk.
However, it was also found that for every cup equivalent of vegetables the risk of relapse decreased by 50%. These associations remained the same even when vitamin D levels and other influential factors, such as age, race, gender, ethnicity, disease durations, weight and drug treatment had been taken into account.
Researchers concluded that this study suggests children with MS, receiving high energy intake from fat, especially saturated fat, may increase the chances of relapse, while vegetable intake may be independently protective.