Multiple Sclerosis aects about 2.5 million people globally. Geographically, MS is more prevalent in Northern Europe, North America, South-East Australia and New Zealand and is least prevalent in tropical and sub-tropical regions. On an average, one in 750 people have the possibility of getting Multiple Sclerosis.

In recent years, the prevalence of Multiple Sclerosis has changed dramatically worldwide. While MS was believed to be more common in the Caucasians of Northern Europe and USA, however now, MS has been found to be present in the Indian subcontinent as well. With the availability of specialist neurologists and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) facilities, MS is now being diagnosed in increasing numbers in India.

The probability of getting MS increases if someone in the immediate family has MS. While MS is not directly hereditary, genetic susceptibility plays an important part in its development. Other factors like geography, ethnicity, and even infection can aect whether someone develops MS.

MS is most common among people between 20 and 50 years of age, however, it’s onset might have happened earlier. Further, anyone can get MS, but it is two to three times more common in women than in men.


While doctors are not sure what causes MS, doctors confirm that it is not a result of lifestyle choices and moreover it is not contagious. There are several theories regarding the cause of the disease, including the following:

Immunology: In MS, the body’s immune system begins to respond in an abnormal way by attacking the myelin in the central nervous system. While doctors are not sure what target the immune cells are attacking, research has identified the immune cells that attack and also the reason behind it.
Environment: Researchers are studying what environment factors cause MS – geography, age, gender, ethnic background etc., however, studies have suggested that low levels of vitamin D – vitamin that aids proper functioning of the immune system – may play a role in the development of MS.

Infections: Studies have indicated that viral and bacterial infections may cause MS and there are more studies being conducted on many viruses to examine their role in people developing MS.

Genetics: While MS is not a hereditary condition, there exists some risk of its occurrence among a patient’s family members. Scientists are trying to find out which genes shared amongst family members gets aected by MS or are found in patient populations that have a higher incidence of MS.