Prevalence and Causes of Multiple Sclerosis

Studies show that MS is the result of a number of factors rather than a single factor.  Most likely, genetics plays a role in determining a person's susceptibility to MS.  The disease is not entirely genetically controlled, although first-degree relatives of individuals with MS have an increased risk of developing the disease.  Exposure to environmental factors, such as a virus, UV radiation and season of birth, levels of dietary vitamin D, Epstein-Barr virus(EBV) infection, smoking and other factors may also help play a role.  The specific factors have not yet been identified.8

The average age of diagnosis is usually between 20 and 50, although it also can occur in older individuals.  MS is twice as common in women compared to men.8

2013 survey data suggested that MS affects more than 400,000 people in the US and an estimated 2.3 million people worldwide.  Worldwide, MS occurs with much greater frequency in higher latitudes (above 40° latitude) away from the equator, than in lower latitudes, closer to the equator.8

MS is more common among Caucasians (particularly those of northern European ancestry) than other races.  In certain populations, an antigen marker has been linked to MS.  It is called human leucocyte antigen DRB1 (HLA-DRB1) and is found more frequently in people with MS than in those who do not have the disease.5, 8

Please note that this information provided by BARD Medical is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a medical professional.


  1. Neurogenic Bladder: When Nerve Damage Causes Bladder Problems – Urology Care Foundation: (2014)
  2. Multiple Sclerosis: National Institutes of Health (9/2012):
  3. Managing Progressive MS – National Multiple Sclerosis Society(10/2013):
  4. Cleveland Clinic, Diseases and Conditions – Neurogenic Bladder (11/2012),
  5. Sauerwein D. Urinary tract infections in patients with Neurogenic bladder dysfunction, Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2002 Jun; 19(6):592-7.
  6. J Kesselring, G. Combi, A Thompson, Multiple Sclerosis , Recovery of Function and Neurorehabitation, Cambridge University Press 2010
  7. O Malik, A Donnelly, M Barnett; Fast Facts: Multiple Sclerosis, Health Press, Oxford UK, 2014
  8. D Newman, M Williams,; Review Intermittent Catherization and Current Best Practices, Urologic Nursing, Jan-Feb 2011, Volume 31, Number 1

 Information is as of 12/2014. Please check references for updated information.