Breastfeeding Mothers with MS Experience Lesser Relapse Risk

A study recently posted only indicated that women with multiple sclerosis who breastfed exclusively for at least two months are less likely to experience a relapse within a year after childbirth.

The said study, which was headed by Annette Langer-Gould, MD PhD and formerly of Stanford University School of Medicine but now at the Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena, together with colleagues studied two groups of pregnant women, 32 of which had multiple sclerosis and 29 who did not.

Both groups, who belong to the same age group were individually interviewed about their clinical, menstrual and breastfeeding history during each trimester. The participants were also followed up during the second, fourth, sixth, ninth and twelfth month after they gave birth. In addition to the interviews, neurological examinations were also collected from the group of pregnant women who had MS.

The findings showed that more healthy women (96 percent) than those women with MS (69 percent) began breastfeeding their child. And of those women who did breastfeed, those women with MS were more likely to begin daily formula feedings for their child within two months after giving birth. Of the 52 percent of the women with MS who did not breastfeed their children or started formula feeding within two months after giving birth, 87 percent of them experienced an MS relapse. Only 36 percent of the women with MS who breastfed their children experienced a relapse.

Furthermore, both healthy and the women with MS who breastfed their children exclusively had a significantly prolonged absence of menstruation, a condition that is associated with a decreased risk of relapse among women with MS.

The women with MS who did not breastfeed and used formula feedings cited taking MS medication as their primary reason for doing so. Use of medication for treating MS is not recommended during pregnancy or when breastfeeding after giving birth. Women with MS should decide whether to choose between breastfeeding their child or resuming their MS treatment.

The results of the study suggests that women with MS should be encouraged to breastfeed exclusively for at least the first two months after giving birth instead of resuming their MS medication. A larger study concerning women with MS may be needed to confirm the benefit of breastfeeding as opposed to foregoing it in order to start MS treatment after giving birth.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals. "Breastfeeding Associated With A Reduced Risk Of Relapse In Women With Multiple Sclerosis." ScienceDaily 11 June 2009. 16 June 2009 .

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