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Study: MS Progression Is Not Affected By Number of Pregnancies

March 1, 2016

Long-term research indicates that having multiple children does not decrease nor increase disability in a woman with multiple sclerosis. The study, published in The International Journal of Molecular Sciences, sought to try and clarify how pregnancy affects MS symptoms.

It has been known that symptoms commonly subside during a woman’s pregnancy, however it has been unclear how a patient would fare once the baby was born.

Investigators, led by Emanuele D’Amico of the Department of Neurology, University of Catania, Italy, assessed disability progression in women with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), who had one or more children following their MS onset. The team divided a total of 86 women into two groups, 56 with one pregnancy and 30 with more than one, and followed them from 2000-2007.

The researchers collected data on age at the first pregnancy, amount of time from MS onset to first pregnancy, type of delivery, birth weight, breastfeeding habits, and childhood medical problems. They measured MS disability using a standard method known as the expanded disability status scale (EDSS).

Overall, investigators found no statistical evidence that the onset of MS-related disability was any different between the two groups. This suggests that it really does not matter how many kids a patient has when it comes to rate of disability. However investigators were not 100% sold:

The investigators concluded, “Our results suggest that experiencing more than one pregnancy could not convey a different clinical outcome in [women with MS]. Further research is needed to confirm our results.”  Such research is of increasing importance, they added, because “pregnancy-related issues are not related only to the potential role of pregnancy on disease re-activation after delivery, but they are more and more depending on drug treatments. A number of disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) are available and other are under development to treat RR forms of MS. None of these agents is approved for use in pregnancy.”