Clinical Edge

Summaries of Must-Read Clinical Literature, Guidelines, and FDA Actions

Exposure to Animals Associated with Risk of MS

Mult Scler Relat Disord; ePub 2018 Nov 15; de Jong, et al

Animal exposure, and specifically dog exposure, in early adolescence was associated with an increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a recent study. Researchers conducted a case-control study within the Nurses’ Health Study ([NHS]/NHSII cohorts). Overall, 151 women with MS and 235 controls, matched by age and study cohort, completed an animal exposure history questionnaire. Animal exposure pre-MS onset was assessed as “any” exposure, then by the participant’s age, and animal family. They found:

  • “Any” animal exposure was reported by 136 (90.1%) MS cases compared to 200 (85.1%) matched controls, with dog exposure being the most common (120 [79.5%] cases vs 170 [72.3%] controls).
  • There was no association between “any” animal exposure and MS risk.
  • However, both “any” animal and specifically dog exposure at ages 10-14 years were associated with an increased MS risk.


de Jong HJI, Tremlett H, Zhu F, Ascherio A, Munger KL. Animal exposure over the life-course and risk of multiple sclerosis: A case-control study within two cohorts of US women. [Published online ahead of print November 15, 2018]. Mult Scler Relat Disord. doi:10.1016/j.msard.2018.11.015.

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