There are about 2.5 million people worlwide suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). The disease commonly afflicts young people in their prime, between the ages of 20 and 40. It is no surprise that many MS victims are women of reproductive age – mothers and wanna be mothers.
However, there are certain restrictions to moms with MS. Most MS drugs cannot be taken during pregnancy and while breasfeeding. The drugs can get into the mother’s milk and taken in by the baby.
Breastfeeding is the best thing for babies. It is healthy, economical, and green. Moms with MS however, have to choose between restarting medications immediately after delivery or breastfeeding their babies.
A recent study indicates that breastfeeding may not be just good for babies but for moms with MS.
Tracking 32 women with MS and 29 without MS during the gestation period and up to one year postpartum, the study results suggests that breastfeeding actually prevents MS relapse even without the medications.
The actual figures are as follows:
- 52% of moms with MS did breastfeed or stopped prematurely in order to restart taking their medications.
- 36% of moms with MS who exclusive breastfed has a relapse within the follow up period.
- In contrast, 87% of those who partially breastfed or did not breastfeed at all had an MS relapse during the same period.
According to Annette Langer-Gould of Kaiser Permanente Southern California
“While 87 percent of the women who did not breastfeed exclusively had a relapse in the year after giving birth, only 36 percent of the women who did breastfeed exclusively relapsed in that postpartum year.”
The study results indicate that breastfeeding lowers the incidence of MS relapse whereas restarting MS medications two months after delivers seems to actually increase rather than decrease the incidence of relapse.
Breastfeeding seems to provide protection in moms with MS but the mechanisms are not so clear. However, this is not surprising since other studies have reported health benefits for breastfeeding moms, from decreased risk for hormone-related cancers, to improved cardiovascular health.
Breastfeeding is the natural way to go, the way nature designed it to be. It is no wonder that both mom and baby benefit from it.
According to Dr Eleanor Bimla Schwarz of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Healthcare, PA
“During pregnancy, the body stores up a bunch of nutrients with the plan that it’s going to release much of this in the form of breast milk, a very calorific food. If this doesn’t happen, what we see is that the woman’s body pays the price. Breast-feeding really helps bring you back to your baseline, and it helps women recover from the stress test that pregnancy entails.”
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