Breastfeeding May Help Reduce MS Relapse Risk In Women

breastfeedingBreastfeeding has been known to have certain benefits usually associated with child development. But researchers have also recently discovered that breastfeeding a child may also benefit the mother, especially if she is suffering from multiple sclerosis. It seems that breast feeding may help reduce the relapse risk of women suffering from this debilitating autoimmune disease.

A research team from Stanford University studied a group of pregnant women composed of 32 patients with multiple sclerosis and 29 who do not suffer from the said disease. The group was examined each trimester up to a year after they have given birth. Of the pregnant women with MS, about 52 percent did not breastfeed their child or began using supplemental formula within two months after giving birth.

In this group, the researchers found that 87 percent experienced a relapse of MS after pregnancy as compared to only 36 percent of the pregnant women with MS who have at least breastfed exclusively for two months after giving birth. The study also showed that 60 percent of the pregnant women aid that the main reason for not breastfeeding exclusively was to begin taking MS treatment again.

The women who began to take MS treatments within the first two months after their pregnancy experienced a significantly higher risk of relapse than those who did not start their medications early, regardless of whether they breastfed or not. In addition, those who breastfed also got their menstrual periods back later than those who did not breastfed or began using supplemental formulas early.

According to Annette Langer-Gould, MD, PhD, of Stanford University in California, the study author and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, "Our findings call into question the benefit of choosing not to breastfeed or stopping breastfeeding early in order to start taking MS therapies." She further added that "Larger studies need to be done on whether women should delay taking MS medications in order to breastfeed."


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