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Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Research on Breastfeeding with MS Contradicts Previous Findings

Despite previous research suggesting otherwise, breastfeeding does not appear to protect against MS relapses, according to researchers from the University of Florence in Italy. Their study found that the likelihood of relapse after pregnancy was tied to relapses before and during pregnancy but not to whether the mothers in their study breastfed or not. They concluded breastfeeding may not be a feasible option for mothers at high risk of relapse after pregnancy, because they may need to resume drug treatments straight away.

Study author Dr. Emilio Portaccio and colleagues conducted a prospective study of 298 women recruited from 21 Italian MS centers and followed up their pregnancies from 2002 to 2008. During this time, 302 out of 423 pregnancies resulted in full-term delivery, and follow ups continued for at least one year after delivery. About 34 percent of the mothers breastfed for at least two months after delivery, while the remaining mothers breastfed for less than this or not at all and were considered as not breastfeeding. During the 12 months following delivery, 37 percent of the mothers had one relapse and 6.6 percent had two or more.

Using a statistical tool to look at several measures at once to see which have the strongest influence on relapse rate after pregnancy, they found that "the only significant predictors of postpartum relapses were relapses in the year before pregnancy ... and during pregnancy."

The data indicated women who had relapses in the 12 months leading up to their pregnancy were 50 percent more likely to have a relapse after delivery than women who did not have a relapse in the year before pregnancy. And women who had relapses during pregnancy were more than twice as likely to have a relapse after delivery as the women who did not experience relapses during pregnancy.

This was after taking into account influencing factors like age at onset of MS, age at pregnancy, duration of the disease, level of disability, and exposure to drugs, including any MS drugs. There was nothing to suggest breastfeeding worsened the relapse rate.

The researchers also suggested the link between breastfeeding and lower risk of relapses after pregnancy that previous studies have reported may "simply reflect different patient behavior, biased by the disease activity."

"Women who have fewer relapses before and during pregnancy may be more likely to breastfeed and then continue to have fewer relapses in the postpartum period," Portaccio says. However, he said that a course of steroids taken after pregnancy might protect against later attacks, and adds, "Approaches of this type were not assessed in this study and might, in consultation with the treating neurologist, enable breastfeeding."
 
The study was published in the journal Neurology...
Sourcing: MS Foundation

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Disclaimer:  'MS Views and News' (MSVN), does not endorse any products or services found on this blog. It is up to you to seek advice from your healthcare provider. The intent of this blog is to provide information on various medical conditions, medications, treatments, and procedures for your personal knowledge and to keep you informed of current health-related issues. It is not intended to be complete or exhaustive, nor is it a substitute for the advice of your physician. Should you or your family members have any specific medical problem, seek medical care promptly.

2 comments:

j calder said...

Does anybody know whether breastfeeding has any effect on whether your child will develop MS in later life? I breastfed all three of my children, so I'm hoping this will have had a positive effect.

Stuart said...

There is no known evidence that relates breastfeeding will cause a child to develop MS. But also remember that it is not yet known what does cause "anybody" to develop MS.