MS is a common neurologic disease that affects 350,000 to 400,000 people in the United States. Women are diagnosed with the disease about twice as frequently as are men. Although MS may affect people in all age groups, it is typically diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40 years. A striking relationship exists between the prevalence of MS and the geographic area in which an individual lived during childhood. In general, an individual has a higher risk of developing MS if he or she grew up in an area that is far from the equator and a lower risk if the childhood years were spent near the equator.
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