Psychologists at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, examined neurocognitive differences between African American (AA) and Caucasian (CA) patients with pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis (POMS). The study included 42 subjects aged 6-21 years; 20 AA and 22 CA. The AA cohort performed worse on measures of language (p<0.001) and complex attention (p<0.01) than their CA peers. Longitudinal measurement of cognitive pathology is important for development of effective intervention strategies to prolong cognitive functioning in POMS patients. [1]

COMMENT. The authors suggest that cognitive intervention focused on language and complex attention skills may be particularly helpful in AA youth with MS.

In an editorial, Marie RA [2] comments that heterogeneity in physical and cognitive outcomes in MS reflect the contribution of multiple factors including genetics, environment, comorbid disease, health behavior, and increasingly, race and ethnicity. Ethnicity, or a social group who share a common history, social and cultural traditions, may be underappreciated in evaluating differences in cognitive ability. Longitudinal studies in children with MS need to measure differences related to ethnicity as well as race and social factors.