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    Multiple Sclerosis and Geographic Location - Topic Overview

    The number of people who have multiple sclerosis (MS) increases the farther away they are from the equator.

    In areas near the equator, MS occurs in fewer than 1 out of 100,000 people. In areas farther from the equator-such as northern Europe and northern North America-MS occurs in around 30 to 80 out of 100,000 people.1 When moving south of the equator, the number of people with MS is less dramatic, but the same trend is seen.

    Recommended Related to Multiple Sclerosis

    Optic Neuritis: When MS Affects Your Vision

    It can happen all of a sudden. Your vision gets dim or blurry. You can’t see colors. Your eyes hurt when you move them. It’s a condition called optic neuritis, and it’s a common problem for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). The symptoms can seem scary, but most people recover fully, often without treatment.

    Read the Optic Neuritis: When MS Affects Your Vision article > >

    Some evidence suggests that people who move from a high-risk to a low-risk area before the age of 15 reduce their chances of developing MS. But the same is true in reverse. In those who move from a low-risk area to a high-risk area before the age of 15, the risk of getting MS increases. Those older than 15 when they move to a new area retain the risk associated with their old area.1

    Most experts agree that this unusual relationship between geographic location and MS suggests that an environmental factor is partly responsible for causing the disease.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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