WEDNESDAY, Dec. 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Spending more time in the sun in the summer is associated with reduced odds of developing pediatric multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study published online Dec. 8 in Neurology.

Prince Sebastian, from the Australian National University Medical School in Canberra, and colleagues recruited children with MS and controls from multiple centers in the United States to examine the correlation of time spent outdoors daily in summer, use of sun protection, and ambient ultraviolet radiation (UVR) dose in the year prior to birth and the year before diagnosis with the risk for pediatric-onset MS. Data were included for 332 children with MS and 534 controls matched for age and sex.

The researchers found that compared with spending <30 minutes outdoors daily during the most recent summer, more time spent outdoors was associated with a marked decrease in the odds of developing MS in a fully adjusted model, with evidence of a dose-response (adjusted odds ratios: 0.48 for 30 minutes to one hour; 0.19 for one to two hours). Higher summer ambient UVR dose was also associated with reduced odds of developing MS (adjusted odds ratio, 0.76 per kJ/m2).

“Clarifying the causal effect of modifiable risk factors, such as sun exposure and vitamin D status, could reduce the disease burden associated with MS,” the authors write. “Our findings suggest that advising regular time in the sun of at least 30 minutes daily during summer, using sun protection as needed, especially for first degree relatives of MS patients, may be a worthwhile intervention to reduce the incidence of pediatric MS.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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