Breastfeeding Mothers With MS May Have Lowered Risk Of Relapse

A new study found that mothers diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), who attempted to continue breastfeeding exclusively for two months possessed a lower risk of encountering an MS relapse six months after delivery, compared to those who did not.

Exclusive breastfeeding pertains to the absence of supplemental feedings in replacement for breastfeeding meals for a minimum of two months. Nonexclusive breastfeeding, on the other hand, is defined as the partial or complete lack of breastfeeding.

The group of researchers led by Kerstin Hellwig, from Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany reviewed information of 201 pregnant women with MS, collated between 2008 and June 2012. Participants also have follow-up data one year after the delivery in the German MS and pregnancy registry nationwide.

The data reviewed by the authors contained 120 mothers or 59.7 percent of participants who intended to practice exclusive breastfeeding for two months, 42 mothers or 20.9 percent who aimed to practice combined supplemental and breastfeeding measures and 30 mothers or 19.4 percent of study subjects who did not breastfeed at all. Out of the 201 women, 178 or 88.6 percent were noted to utilize disease-modifying therapy (DMT) agents prior to their pregnancies.

The findings of the study, published in the JAMA Neurology, show that 31 participants or 38.3 percent of the study population, who did not practice exclusive breastfeeding measures had experience relapse six months after their delivery and only 20 participants or 24.2 percent who looked into implementing exclusive breastfeeding practices for a minimum of two months, had a relapse.

"Taken together, our findings indicate that women with MS should be supported if they choose to breastfeed exclusively," said the study authors, because practicing such apparently does not result in the elevation of MS relapse risk after delivery. Although relapse may be halted during the first months of the postpartum stage due to exclusive breastfeeding, the risk of relapse may return as babies are required to start eating regular food items.

In the end, the researchers concluded that the results of the investigations suggest that MS may be treated modestly during a specific period of time if exclusive breastfeeding practices are performed. The study also showed that exclusive breastfeeding does not contribute to the increased risk of developing MS thus, mothers who opt to do so should be fully supported.

Photo: Aurimas Mikalauskas | Flickr

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