Breastfeeding Doesn't Stop MS

Multiple sclerosis relapses in new mothers are not prevented by breastfeeding

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

(RxWiki News) Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a somewhat mysterious disease. So, when researchers found that breastfeeding may lower a woman's risk of a crippling episode of the disease, mother's with MS became hopeful.

Now, a study published in the journal Neurology is saying that breastfeeding may not help.

Researchers found that breastfeeding does not seem to protect mothers from an MS relapse. Rather, a mother's risk of an MS relapse was affected by her history of relapses before and after giving birth.

"Breastfeeding doesn't protect mothers against MS relapses."

According Emilio Portaccio, M.D., from the University of Florence, and colleagues, the link that was found between breastfeeding and lower risk of MS relapses could have simply been the result of patients' different behaviors.

The findings of this study, the authors write, suggest that breastfeeding may not be a realistic option for mothers with MS, especially for those who are taking heavy medications because they have a high risk of relapse. It is not thought to be safe for women to take MS drugs while they are breastfeeding, and high risk mothers may need to resume taking their drugs right after giving birth.

Portaccio and colleagues came to these results by studying 298 women with MS who had a total of 302 pregnancies that ended in full-term deliveries. The researchers followed these women for a whole year after delivery.

The authors conclude that their study can help doctors give good advice to their MS patients about breastfeeding.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 7, 2011
Last Updated:
July 9, 2011