Varicella, ephemeral breastfeeding and eczema as risk factors for multiple sclerosis in Mexicans

Authors


Julio Sotelo MD Instituto Nacional de Neurología y Neurocirugía, Insurgentes Sur 3877, 14269 Mexico City, Mexico Tel.: +52 55 606-4782 or 606-4040 Fax: +52 55 606-2282 or 528-0095 e-mail: jsotelo@servidor.unam.mx

Abstract

Objectives– It has been suggested that the incidence of multiple sclerosis (MS) in Mexico and other countries of Latin America has increased steadily for the last two decades. We made a thorough search of antecedents on MS patients that could be potential risk factors. Methods– A case–control study was conducted using a questionnaire that included demographic, nutritional, infectious and personal antecedents previously identified in other reports as possible risk factors for MS. Results– The frequency of varicella, ephemeral breastfeeding and eczema in the medical history of MS patients were significant when compared with controls; all appeared to be mutually additive. However, they were unrelated with clinical characteristics or disease severity. Conclusion– During the last decades, breastfeeding has been abandoned in large segments of society and the incidence of varicella and childhood eczema keeps a north–south gradient similar to that described for MS. These factors may participate in the sharp increase of MS in countries like Mexico traditionally considered as an area of very low incidence.

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