What are the risk factors for acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM)?

Updated: Nov 08, 2018
  • Author: J Nicholas Brenton, MD; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
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Susceptibility to either ADEM or MS is likely the product of multiple factors, including a complex interrelationship of genetics and exposure to infectious agents and other environmental factors. Of particular interest are the indications that susceptibility to either condition is in part age-related. Most cases of ADEM possibly occur as the result of an inflammatory response provoked by pre-pubertal infection with a virus, vaccine, or other infectious agent. Typically, the manifestations of ADEM occur quickly after this pre-pubertal febrile systemic illness and are monophasic. In a minority of cases, patients with ADEM experience one or two pre-pubertal recurrences followed by remission. MS, on the other hand, typically manifests as a relapsing-remitting illness in ensuing adolescence or young adulthood, a significant and unexplained latency of effect with apparent permanency of immune dysregulation. Bouts of MS occur without a febrile prodrome. Uncommonly, MS develops in pre-pubertal individuals andADEMdevelops in post-pubertal individuals. In very rare instances, individuals manifest pre-pubertal ADEM and, after long latency, MS in adolescence.

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