Family

There is usually no risk to the pregnancy. The only involvement from the father in a pregnancy comes at the point of conception, so the DMD would have to affect the man’s sperm in order to impact on the baby.

The only drug that has this effect is Aubagio (Terifluonmide), a pill which is used by people with RRMS. When taking this, a long washout period should be applied to get the DMD out of the man’s system before conception.

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Medications are generally not tested on pregnant women, as it is unethical to expose the fetus to the potential risks.  That said, there are medications that have not been shown to cause harm in many thousands of pregnancies, and therefore experience tells us they are safe.

In terms of DMDs (disease-modifying drugs), the one currently licensed for use during pregnancy is Copaxone, but you should always discuss with your doctor before making any changes to your medication.

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Research suggests that pregnancy, especially the last few weeks, has a positive effect for women with MS. Pregnant women with MS have a 70% lower relapse rate than non-pregnant women with MS. Although relapse rates increase slightly in the three months after childbirth, only 28% of women who have given birth experience any relapse during this period.

Significant research has found that multiple sclerosis has little to no negative effect on either the mother or the baby. Women with MS can expect to experience the same pregnancy symptoms and complications as women without MS, and babies born to women with MS are no more likely to have low birth-weight or problems following delivery.

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Stress is closely linked to the development of MS and relapses, producing a negative effect not just on the mother but also on her developing baby. There’s evidence that stress can cause or increase the risk of diabetes, asthma, ADHD and autistic traits, cerebral palsy, miscarriage, preterm labor, malformations, and growth retardation.

For more information on all these topics, please see the MS Encyclopedia.

I am or want to be pregnant: How does MS impact that?

The effects are not good. Maternal diets high in saturated and trans-fats appear to contribute to early puberty, increased risk of breast cancer in offspring and their children, and increased anxiety in offspring.

Studies show the food choices made in pregnancy can have a direct affect on the food choices of the offspring. Therefore if we choose to eat healthily our children are less likely to prefer unhealthy foods.

For more information on all these topics, please see the MS Encyclopedia.

I am or want to be pregnant: How does MS impact that?

OMS advises mothers to eat a balanced diet rich in omega-3s, with vitamin D and folic acid supplementation. For more information – and specifics on how much fish is okay for an expectant mother – see the MS Encyclopedia.

I am or want to be pregnant: How does MS impact that?

In vitro fertilization is associated with an increased relapse rate. Given that the hormonal changes of pregnancy affect MS, it is to be expected that the hormonal changes induced by IVF would affect the disease too. Studies have shown that GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) agonists may increase relapse rate, but GnRH antagonists do not.

For a closer look at these pregnancy issues and MS, as well as sources, see the MS Encyclopedia.

I am or want to be pregnant: How does MS impact that?

She urgently needs to check her vitamin D status, and should consider recommencing breastfeeding. Low vitamin D is closely correlated with depression. If it is low, she needs the usual megadose to get levels up urgently. It is also important to get regular exercise, preferably outdoors, as this helps enormously with depression and will also help her get adequate vitamin D. It might be worth getting some counselling for the depression.

Recent research confirms that breastfeeding is protective for the mother against further MS attacks while she is breastfeeding. Once she takes the megadose, it will also help her babies get their vitamin D levels up (through the breast milk). That will reduce the risk of the babies ever getting MS, and once the children stop breastfeeding, vitamin D supplements should start as per the instructions found on this website.

Siblings, parents and children of people with multiple sclerosis are 30-40 times more likely to develop the disease than others. Between 1 in 330 and 1 in 1000 people of the general population get MS, but this spikes to 1 in 10 for close family relatives and 1 in 4 for identical twins.

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There is good evidence that taking even a low dose of vitamin D regularly substantially reduces the risk of getting multiple sclerosis. Children of people with MS should routinely be supplemented with vitamin D. See here for doses.

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Roy Swank noted in his study that there were no new cases of multiple sclerosis in families where everyone followed the same diet as those with MS. It is also easier to cook one meal only, but it may be difficult to get agreement from all family members, especially if they are older.

For more about the OMS diet, click here

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