Early MS cognitive impairment not linked with ethnicity

A new study has found that ethnicity doesn’t appear to have any influence on the severity of cognitive impairment in people in the early stages of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Researchers already know that changes in cognitive function during a person’s early stages can help to predict more severe cognitive impairments later down the line. The study was looking for other factors that may be able to help predict which people were at greater risk for cognitive impairment, such as ethnicity.

The researchers evaluated cognitive function using the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) which measures attention, processing speed, and working memory. It is often used to track changes in cognition over time.

Researchers analysed data from 1,174 people, 519 of whom were white, 261 black and 394 Hispanic. Of the group, 71% were women and average mean age was 40.

The SDMT tests showed that people with MS had lower scores compared to a control sample across all of the ethnicities, but no evidence was found that MS causes more cognitive impairment in Hispanic or black people than in white people.