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MS and Pregnancy:
Hot Button Issues

What about breastfeeding?
I was diagnosed in 1994 when I was 28 and had to make a decision about having kids. Long story short, they are now 31/2 and 1. I saw how "official" recommendations changed over the few short years between my two pregnancies.

My neurologist was really cool and told me there will never be hard evidence about pregnancy and medications because no one would subject herself to that kind of research. He paired me with another woman treated in the same clinic who was pregnant when I was. We had totally different views on breastfeeding. I decided not to. I went back on Betaseron about two days after delivering. My friend has kind of lied about it. She breastfeeds and doesn't take her prescription. Maybe the Society can get some discussion going on this.
Name withheld, via e-mail

Dr. Rosalind Kalb of the Professional Resource Center replied:
Clear-cut answers that apply equally to everyone are not likely. We hope your friend will discuss her decision with her doctor. She should expect to be listened to respectfully and not criticized. She should also expect to listen to reasonable advice. If there is no give-and-take, she may need another doctor.


Will our baby have MS?
Dr. Stephen Hauser, who heads research on MS and genetics at the MS Center, University of California, San Francisco, answered:

Simple risk estimates are oversimplifications which can easily be misinterpreted. The reality is that risk estimates may be very different depending upon family structure. We now know that risks are much higher for families in which MS occurs in multiple relatives than for families in which there is only one affected individual. Risk is also moderated by ethnicity and by other factors we haven't yet pinned down.

Only one study indicated that fathers transmit their family MS risk to children less often than mothers do. Although the National MS Society previously published that information, we should now consider this unconfirmed.

Please remember that individual situations will override these general rules:

  • The risk of eventually developing MS for any baby in the general population: approximately 1:750
  • The risk for a baby when one parent has MS: approximately 1:40

In other words, the MS risk is increased and yet 1 out 40 is generally considered to be a relatively low risk.


For additional information
 Family and Friends
 MS and Pregnancy
 Who Gets MS?
  Last updated May 2006