Research Article| Volume 42, 102145, July 2020

Cognitive reserve is a determinant of social and occupational attainment in patients with pediatric and adult onset multiple sclerosis


      • AOMS and POMS exhibit Cognitive Impairment dissociated from physical disability.
      • Cognitive Reserve has a protective role on CI in MS.
      • POMS experience a drop off in educational level based on parental education.
      • Relationships exist between cognition, socioeconomic, professional attainment in MS



      There is limited information on socio-professional attainment in pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis (POMS) compared with adult-onset MS (AOMS).


      To assess socio-professional outcomes in POMS and AOMS and variables influencing these outcomes.


      One-hundred-fifteen AOMS and 111 POMS patients underwent neuropsychological testing (Brief Repeatable Battery, Stroop test), assessment of cognitive reserve (CR) (education, National Adult reading Test –NART, Barratt Simplified Measure of Social Status), fatigue (Fatigue Severity Scale), depression (Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale), socio-professional performance (Work and Social Adjustment Scale -WSAS). Prognostic factors were assessed using logistic and linear multivariable regression analyses.


      34.5% of patients showed CI without significant differences between AOMS and POMS. Cognitively impaired patients were older (p=0.024), had higher EDSS scores (p=0.041) and lower IQ (p<0.001) compared with cognitively preserved patients. Better WSAS scores were associated with younger age (p=0.007), lower EDSS (p<0.001) and higher educational levels (p=0.001). Fourteen POMS (13%) and six AOMS (5%) achieved a lower educational level compared with their parents (p=0.06). POMS exhibiting a lower than expected educational level, had a lower median IQ compared with the remaining subjects (101 vs 106.5; p=0.03). Unemployment rate was predicted by higher disability (p=0.044) and lower educational levels (p<0.001). Occupational complexity was positively correlated to educational level (<0.001) and NART scores (<0.040).


      This study underscores the complex relationships between cognition and educational, socioeconomic and professional attainment in MS and supports a protective role of CR in both POMS and AOMS.


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