During the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology this April, researchers from Stanford University, in California will report, “Women who have multiple sclerosis (MS) may reduce their risk for relapse after pregnancy if they breast-feed.”
The findings will stir debate.
First, the details.
32 pregnant women with MS were compared to 29 age-matched pregnant women who did not have MS.
All were interviewed to assess their health, menstrual, and breast-feeding history during each trimester and up to a year after they gave birth.
And, the results.
48% of the women breast-fed exclusively for at least 2 months.
The rest did not breast-feed or began regular supplemental feedings within 2 months.
The rate of relapse was 87% among those who did not breast-feed exclusively vs 36% among those who did — a significant difference.
After accounting for disease severity and age, women who did not exclusively breast-feed were 7-times more likely to suffer a relapse than those who did.
The bottom line?
“This is controversial,” said Dr. Annette Langer-Gould. According to an article on Medscape, many physicians encourage MS patients to restart medication quickly after pregnancy, and many women choose not to breast-feed their babies for this reason.
Larger studies are needed to determine whether women should delay taking MS medications in order to breast-feed.
For now, ask you physician if you have a question.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.