The drugs that have fueled a revolution among adults with MS have not been tested in children, and there is no proof that these drugs will work the same way for young children as they do in adults. Experts hope that these drugs, especially if started early, will stave off the worst consequences of the disease.

Researchers worry that repeated attacks can leave a child with memory and learning problems. One study found that about 30 percent of the children tested had trouble with cognitive skills, such as remembering information for a test. Some adults with MS also have such deficits but often can compensate by relying on their past experience.

mumps An acute viral illness that was at one time a common childhood disease, featuring swollen and inflamed salivary glands on one or both sides of the face or under the jaw. In 1968 there were 152,000 mumps cases; today only a few thousand patients a year get mumps.

Before the mumps vaccine was developed, almost every child got mumps sometime in childhood. While the incidence of the disease is much lower today, an unimmunized child remains at high risk for getting mumps. The disease is still widely found in developing countries, which is why anyone over age one should have a vaccine before traveling abroad.

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