Ask the Register: Family Prevalence and MS


Thanks to our participants, the MS Register has a huge wealth of information about living with MS in the UK. This data gets analysed by researchers from both Swansea University, where we are based, and also by external researchers. They look at the data to attempt to answer important research questions such as what sort of level of access do people with progressive MS have to services in the UK or for example the role of nutrition in alleviating symptoms of MS, to highlight a couple of recent studies.

But what about you? What would you like to find out from this vast collection of data from people with MS in the UK? We asked our participants if they had any questions that we could try to answer with the data.

“I’m curious to know how many parents with MS have children who also have MS?”

On one of our questionnaires we ask: “Do you have a relation with MS and if so what is their relationship to you?”



These results are not a reflection of the likelihood of a relative
of someone with MS getting MS or not, they are results from
our population of people with MS There has been a great deal
of research around the genetics and family prevalence of MS
and the MS Society produced a great fact sheet summarising
the research in 2015.

By looking at several different studies from around the world,
the MS society reported back in more detail about family

  • If a parent has MS: about a 1.5% chance (1 in 67)
  • If a brother or sister has MS: about a 2.7% chance (1 in 37)

But even for the closest of relatives there’s still a much greater
chance that a person will not develop MS.