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Breast-Feeding May Lower Multiple Sclerosis Relapse Risk

Last Updated: August 21, 2009.

New mothers with multiple sclerosis who breast-feed exclusively may have a lower risk of postpartum MS relapses, according to research published in the August issue of the Archives of Neurology.

FRIDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) -- New mothers with multiple sclerosis (MS) who breast-feed exclusively may have a lower risk of postpartum MS relapses, according to research published in the August issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Annette Langer-Gould, M.D., of the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues analyzed data from 32 pregnant women with MS and 29 age-matched, pregnant controls.

The researchers found that women with MS who didn't breast-feed, or started regularly supplementing their infants' feedings within two months, had a higher risk of postpartum relapse during the year after delivery compared to women with MS who breast-fed exclusively for at least two months postpartum (adjusted hazard ratio, 7.1). Healthy women and mothers with MS who breast-fed exclusively had a later return of menses, and in women with MS, return of menses before four months was associated with higher risk of postpartum relapse (adjusted hazard ratio, 4.0).

"Our findings suggest that women with MS should be encouraged to breast-feed exclusively for at least the first two months postpartum in lieu of starting immunomodulatory agent treatment shortly after delivery. These findings highlight the need to critically evaluate the efficacy of early postpartum treatments in MS, especially if they are not compatible with lactation," the authors conclude.

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