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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the impact of temporal increase of female to male (F:M) sex ratio for persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) on the familial risk (empiric recurrence risks or RRs) for biological relatives of affected individuals. METHODS: Detailed family histories were systematically obtained from people with MS attending the University of British Columbia Hospital MS Clinic. The study cohort was born in 1970 or more recently. Data were collected from 1 September 2015 to 31 January 2019. The study was designed to allow only one proband per family. Age-corrected RRs for biological relatives of probands were calculated based on a modification of the maximum-likelihood approach. RESULTS: Data analyses were possible for 746 unique probands (531 females; 215 males) and 19,585 of their biological relatives. RRs were temporally impacted. CONCLUSION: Both genetic sharing and environmental factors are important in determining RRs. It appears that there is an increase in MS risk due to environmental factors in later life (i.e. not shared family environment). Environmental exposures in genetically predisposed individuals might be driving the MS risk. The increase in F:M ratio of RRs for sisters/brothers of female probands over time is likely due to environmental differences.

Original publication




Journal article


Mult Scler

Publication Date



Multiple sclerosis, environment, genetics, recurrence risks, sex ratio