Multiple Sclerosis: What Role Do Genetics Play?

A smiling family playing football in a parkResearchers believe that multiple sclerosis may in part be inherited (genetics contribute to the increased risk of MS seen in family members).

But which family members are most at risk?

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First, second and third degree relatives of people with MS are at increased risk of developing the disease. Siblings of an affected person have a 2%-5% risk of developing MS.

Researchers believe that there is more than one gene that makes a person more likely to get MS. Some scientists theorize that MS develops because a person is born with a genetic predisposition to react to some environmental agent, which, upon exposure, triggers an autoimmune response.

Sophisticated new techniques for identifying genes may help answer questions about the role of genetics in the development of MS.