Why does one person get multiple sclerosis (MS) and the other does not? We do not know enough about the disease mechanisms that cause MS to answer this question. It is known that exposure to certain environmental factors in someone’s youth greatly influences the risk of getting MS later. But how and at what exact age these environmental factors (for example vitamin D, exposure to sunlight, being overweight, smoking parents) exercise their influence is not yet known.
In this project the influence of these environmental factors on brain development in childhood will be analyzed. We will use the data gathered in the Generation R study. This cohort, started in 2002, is a large population survey involving almost 10,000 children in Rotterdam. We will study environmental factors, genetic vulnerability for MS and brain development (by means of MRI scans). We hypothesize that both environmental and genetic factors can influence brain development in such a way that a vulnerability can develop to develop MS later in life.
Understanding the early onset of MS can make MS prevention possible.