March 9, 2012

More Pregnancies, Less MS?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- According to a recent study, women who have had multiple pregnancies may have a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS).

The study obtained information about 282 Australian women and men who were between the ages of 18 and 59 who had a diagnosis for the first time of central nervous demyelination, meaning they had their first symptoms that are linked to MS but not diagnosed with the disease yet. The researchers compared this information to approximately 542 women and men who did not show any symptoms similar to MS. The number of pregnancies lasting at least 20 weeks and the number of live births were recorded for women. For men, the number of children born was noted as well.

"In our study, the risk went down with each pregnancy and the benefit was permanent," study author Anne-Louise Ponsonby, PH.D., of Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia was quoted as saying.

The study found that a quarter of the risk of developing MS symptoms for women who were pregnant two or more times and women who had five or more pregnancies had one-twentieth the risk of developing MS symptoms than women who were never pregnant. No association was found for the amount of children and risk of symptoms in men.

"The rate of MS cases has been increasing in women over the last few decades, and our research suggests that this may be due to mothers having children later in life and having fewer children than they have in past years," Dr. Ponsonby was quoted as saying.

SOURCE: Neurology, March 2012