Dealing with Guilt as a Parent

Those of you that live with multiple sclerosis probably know that there is no 100% known cause of MS. However, there are some things that scientists have found have contributed to people getting MS.

Factors that play a role in developing MS

The causes that have been published are: Environmental Factors, Genetic Factors & Lifestyle Factors. One of the things that I know that a lot of people are worried about is the genetic factor in MS. As most of you know, I’m a mother of two boys. So obviously, when I first heard I was diagnosed, one of the first questions out of my mouth was, “Are my kids going to get this, too?” This was with a general neurologist, by the way. He couldn’t really tell me a 'for sure' answer, but he said that the chance is slim.

Are my kids going to get MS?

Now, that wasn’t very reassuring, but I have heard from many other Health Care Practitioners over the years that the chance of my children getting MS is very low.

One thing I would like to bring up is something that is posted on's Genetic Factors section: “If a person has a first-degree relative with the disease, the risk for MS increases to around 2 to 5 in 100. Despite this increased risk, even with a family history of MS, the chance of developing the disease is still relatively small. However, the risk does rise again in families which have more than one member living with MS.”

The chance is slim, but more research is needed

So, what does that mean? It means that there isn’t a very HIGH chance that we will pass MS down to our kids, but there is a slim possibility. I’m still concerned about it, but I feel that more research needs to be done on the matter.

I also feel that since I do have MS, I have a ‘sense’ as to what to watch for. Does the worry go away? For me, no it does not. It’s not something that I think about all the time, but when the topic does come up, I do have that scared feeling. I have spoken with people in the past, where a lot of their ‘close’ family had MS, so it seems that for some reason, their probability was higher. Now with me, I have a distant cousin that has MS, but no one in my immediate family has it.

If you want to read more about the genetic make up that is involved with MS, you can check it out by clicking here.

The HLA gene

Now, remember: it seems that even if your children and/or direct family have the specific gene that scientists have researched, which is the HLA gene, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will get MS. It is believed that “A trigger, presumably something environmental, is what is thought to set off the disease process.”1

What is the HLA gene? Researchers have identified particular genes that make some people more susceptible to getting MS, in particular, the HLA complex, as containing probably the most important susceptibility gene for MS.1

Now there are different ‘numbers’ and data with every different resource, and I really believe that we need more research done in this area to truly understand the concept of how genetics plays a role.

As parents, we worry

As parents, we worry about our child, that’s just the bottom line. The worry will never go away, and now we have the worry about them getting MS. In all honesty, I do worry about this, but with the numbers being low, from what I’ve read… it’s not a HUGE concern for me and always on my mind.

I know it’s hard not to feel guilty about if you may have possibly passed MS along to your children, but please remember that we didn’t ask for this illness. No one wants sultiple sclerosis. So, until there is something out there that gives you ‘reason’ to feel guilty, try to stay as calm as possible. We all know that stress isn’t good for those of us with MS anyways.

I will be attending some MS conferences this year, and if there is any new information that I can find on this matter, I will for sure share.

If you would like to talk to other people with MS and get their input on it, you can always post on MSWorld’s Message Boards. Visit for more info about that.

Wishing you all the best.


Ashley Ringstaff

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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