MS Doesn't Mess with the Newborn

Maternal multiple sclerosis not linked to bad outcomes for babies

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It's normal for a pregnant couple to worry about their newborn's health. Now, there's reason for women with multiple sclerosis (MS) to relax about becoming pregnant.

Pregnant women with MS are not more likely than healthy women to have a child with health problems at birth, according to a recent study published in the Annals of Neurology.

"Newborns may not be impacted by their mother's MS."

This finding should be reassuring to women with MS who are trying to start a family, says lead researcher Helen Tremlett, Ph.D., from the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.

The study shows that MS has little or no effect on the health of a newborn. However, women who have higher levels of disability had a slightly higher risk of a bad delivery.

Tremlett also notes that mothers with MS were more often overweight or obese compared to their healthy counterparts. Pregnant women who are overweight or obese may be putting their child at risk at birth, and these women should be counseled on controlling their weight.

Tremlett adds that future studies should look at how being overweight or obese with MS affects a pregnancy.

The majority of MS patients are women. These women often begin to feel the effects of the disease in early adulthood - a time when many people want to start a family. For this reason, it is important to understand how MS might affect the health of a newborn child.

To find out, researchers looked at information from the British Columbia MS Clinics' database and the British Columbia Perinatal Database Registry between 1998 and 2009. They found 432 births to women with MS and 2975 births to women without MS. Then, they compared gestational age (how many months the baby was in the womb), birth weight, type of birth (vaginal or C-section). The researchers also looked at how old the women were when they got MS, how long they had the disease, and how disabled they were.

The gestational age and birth weight of babies born to mothers with MS was not different than those born to mothers without the disease. MS did not affect whether a woman had a vaginal delivery or a C-section.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 27, 2011
Last Updated:
June 28, 2011