Who gets MS?

Find out how common MS is and who may be more likely to get it
Who Gets MS


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There are many ideas about who is likely to get multiple sclerosis (MS). The disease is not contagious or directly inherited, but scientists have identified factors that may be associated with risk for MS. These include gender, genetics, age, geography, and ethnic background. 


In the United States, about 400,000 people suffer from MS

Worldwide, it’s estimated that more than 2.3 million people have MS


MS occurs in different ethnic groups. This includes African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics. However, the most common ethnic group affected by MS is white people with Northern European ancestry. Certain areas have a higher concentration of people with MS. This may mean:

  • The region has a lot of people with similar genetics. These people could share genes that make them more likely to get MS
  • Conditions in the area could be the cause. For instance, MS is more common in colder regions further from the equator
  • It could be a combination of genetics and location 


Genetic risk factors

Relapsing MS is at least 2 to 3 times more common in women than in men

If you have a parent or sibling with MS, you have a 2.5% to 5% chance of developing it

Being an identical twin with someone who has MS raises your risk to 25%


If you’re living with MS, it’s clear you’re not alone. The world is filled with people who have already crossed the same hurdles as you. Learn how support groups can help you talk about your MS and meet others in a similar situation.


Road Trip
Home & Travel

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Maintaining mindfulness at work

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Download Biogen's app to
support your MS journey

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MRI Tools and Technology
MS Education

Biogen partners with Siemens Healthineers

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African Americans & MS
MS Education

MS among African Americans

From Dr. Williams


Learn about MS and connect with others. Check out in-person and online events

From Biogen