Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Tuesday, 16 June 2009 17:47 UK

Schoolboy calls for MS campaign


Ryan McLaughlin led a march to the Scottish Parliament

A teenager whose mother has multiple sclerosis has made a plea for MSPs to help reduce the number of people with the disease in Scotland.

Ryan McLaughlin wants ministers to ensure all children receive supplements of vitamin D, which some believe can help prevent MS.

The 14-year-old from Glasgow put his case to the Scottish Parliament's petitions committee.

Scotland is believed to have the highest rates of MS in the world.

Ryan, whose mother Kirsten, 34, was a European Taekwondo champion before being diagnosed with the incurable disease, also called on the Scottish Government to back an MS awareness campaign.

MS is a horrible disease - I wouldn't wish it on my worst of enemies
Ryan McLaughlin

This would include guidelines on vitamin D supplements for pregnant women, as well as schoolchildren.

Vitamin D, which the body needs for healthy, strong bones is largely gained through sunlight and food.

Medical experts have claimed a vitamin D deficiency, combined with a specific gene variant, may increase the risk of MS, which more than 10,000 people in Scotland have.

A joint study carried out in February by Oxford University and Canadian experts suggested vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy and childhood may cut the risk of someone developing the disabling and painful neurological disease in later years.

Earlier, Ryan, from Drumchapel, led hundreds of supporters down Edinburgh's Royal Mile to the parliament building.

He said: "MS is a horrible disease - I wouldn't wish it on my worst of enemies.

Ryan is the face of a YouTube video campaign for Vitamin D supplements

"I wouldn't like anybody to go through what my family's been through. People are now calling MS 'the Scottish disease'."

The teenager's mother, who was diagnosed with MS two years ago, added: "Ryan isn't doing this for me, he's doing it for future generations of Scots and that's why I'm so proud of him."

Meanwhile, the petitions committee used Ryan's petition to launch a report on improving awareness of the work it does.

As well as a website to publicise his campaign, Ryan has posted a short film on the video-sharing website YouTube, and runs pages on popular social networking sites - a strategy the committee is taking on itself.

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