Mother’s Multiple Sclerosis Does Not Carry Significant Pregnancy Risks

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is generally not associated with worse delivery outcomes or significant risk to infants, according to a new study.MS is a chronic, inflammatory neurological disease and the most common cause of non-traumatic disability in the the United States.

Nearly 75 percent of MS patients are women who often suffer the disease onset in early adulthood, which is a time when many are considering starting a family.

Up to one-third of women deliver children after receiving an MS diagnoses, making it crucial to study the effects of the disease on pregnancy and delivery, said the Canadian researchers who conducted the study.

After analyzing data from 432 births to mothers with MS compared to 2975 births to mothers without the diesease, the researchers found that the babies born to mothers with MS did not have significantly different gestational ages or birth weights from other infants.

Furthermore, mothers with MS were no more likely to have a vaginal delivery or cesarean section than other mothers.

Greater levels of MS-related disability seemed to have a slightly elevated risk of adverse delivery outcomes, but the finding was not significant enough to warrant alarm, the researchers said.

The one main risk, they noted, was that MS mothers were more often overweight or obese, which carries additional risks during pregnancy and birth.  They recommended that women be advised to optimize their weight prior to becoming pregnant.

“Our finding that MS was not associated with poor pregnancy or birth outcomes should be reassuring to women with MS who are planning to start a family,” said lead researcher Helen Tremlett, a doctor at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute in Vancouver, Canada.

The study was published in the journal Annals of Neurology.