Neurologist looking at graph related to how common multiple sclerosis is

How common is multiple sclerosis?

How many people have MS in the UK?

We know that in the UK, there are an estimated *150,000 people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). There are also around 135 people diagnosed each week which means there could be anywhere between 7,100 new MSers a year (which is a relatively small minority of the population which is 0.19% of the whole UK population as of 2023).

Factors that contribute to MS development

There has been a lot of research into what factors cause the disease.


Correlations have been made between how far away people are from the equator and the prevalence of MS. The obvious difference between countries further and closer to this imaginary line is that MS is more common than those who are further away.

Plenty of studies around this link to MS and inadvertently Vitamin D have been conducted with convincing evidence been generated. We don’t have enough knowledge currently on how increasing vitamin D could delay or prevent MS onset however, so more studies are needed.

In the meantime, you can learn more for yourself about the possible role of vitamin D in MS in far greater detail by clicking the button below.


Studies, in addition to our own observations, seem to suggest that women are two to three times more likely to get MS in comparison to men. One suggestion as to why this is comes from hormones, in particular female ones, could make individuals more susceptible to MS.

Top concerns for women with MS often include becoming pregnant and breastfeeding babies, but the child isn’t effected by the condition itself. Professional help is of course available if you’re thinking of having children, and they will help you to understand the relevant details you need to be aware of.

Ethnic background

MS effects people of all ethnicities, but some are more likely than others.

Amongst the global population, the ethic group most likely to be diagnosed with MS are caucasians – typically with northern European decent. This could be linked to the other factors mentioned above, such as distance from the equator, but may also be influenced by genetic make-up.

Do genetics influence MS development?

This is somewhat tricky to answer.

MS does not pass directly from parent to child, but there are genetic components that influence its development – meaning that a mother wouldn’t directly give their child MS for example. However, what does impact your odds are the separate genes you inherit from your parents.

Of the genes that make up your DNA, it’s estimated that there are 100s that can influence the development of this autoimmune disease marginally. In laymen’s terms, the more genetic building blocks with these elements you have passed on from both parents, the more likely an MS diagnosis could be.

Overall, there is some influence in MS development thanks to genetics but it’s not quite as cut and dry as other hereditary diseases.

If you’d like to learn more about what we’ve mentioned in this blog, then feel free to look at the resources below.

* ‘MS Society Multiple Sclerosis Incidence, and Prevalence in the UK’. 2024. The Health Improvement Network (THIN) Database (A Cegedim Proprietary Database). This work uses data provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support.