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Childbirth Linked to Milder Multiple Sclerosis Course

Last Updated: December 07, 2009.

Women with multiple sclerosis who have children, particularly after the onset of the disease, may have a milder disease course than women without children, according to research published online Nov. 25 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

MONDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Women with multiple sclerosis (MS) who have children, particularly after the onset of the disease, may have a milder disease course than women without children, according to research published online Nov. 25 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

Marie B. D'hooghe, M.D., of the Nationaal MS Centrum in Melsbroek, Belgium, and colleagues analyzed data from 330 women with MS, divided among those without children, with children born before the onset of their disease, children born afterward, or children born both before and after. The time to reach Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 6 was the major outcome measure.

The researchers found that roughly half (55 percent) had reached EDSS 6. Those having children only after disease onset had a lower risk of the outcome compared to women without children (hazard ratio, 0.61). Women who had children at any time also had a lower risk compared to women without children (hazard ratio, 0.66).

"The role of pregnancy and childbirth in MS remains an important issue, since MS affects many women of childbearing age. Based on our results and previous work, it is unlikely that there is an unfavorable long-term effect on disability of giving birth to children after disease onset. In contrast, these data rather suggest a possible beneficial effect. These findings may contribute to our understanding of the disease process and the potential role of early interventions," the authors conclude.

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