Childbirth May Slow Progression of Multiple Sclerosis Advancing

Black patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) may see their disease progress more quickly than it does for any other race. However, new research suggests, having children may slow down the progression of MS.

Belgian researchers followed 330 women who had experienced their first MS symptoms between the ages of 22 and 38. Women who had given birth to at least one child were 34 percent less likely to have the disease progress to a stage in which they needed walking assistance, such as a cane or brace, than women without children.

While having a baby either before or after the onset of MS symptoms seemed to help, women who had a child after they began experiencing MS symptoms were even better off. During the study, women with MS symptoms who’d had a baby were 39 percent less likely to have their disease progress to the point of needing walking assistance. In the study, women had the disease for an average of 18 years.

“Women with MS who have children seem to have a more benign MS course than those who don’t,” said study author Marie D’hooghe, of the department of neurology at National MS Centrum in Melsbroek, Belgium.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own defense system attacks myelin, or the protective fatty substance that surrounds nerve fibers in the