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Does Breastfeeding Reduce the Risk of Multiple Sclerosis Relapse?

Women with multiple sclerosis who breastfeed reduce their postpartum chance of MS relapse in the year after giving birth.

Women with multiple sclerosis (MS) who breastfeed their infants exclusively may have a lower risk of disease relapse for up to 6 months postpartum compared to women with MS who do not breastfeed exclusively, according to results of a study published in JAMA Neurology.

Researchers from Ruhr University Bochum in Germany studied 201 pregnant women with MS between January 1, 2008 and June 30, 2012 and followed up after one year postpartum in order to determine the effect of exclusive breastfeeding on postpartum risk of MS relapse. The researchers wanted to investigate further the effects of introducing supplemental feedings onto that risk.

Exclusive breastfeeding was defined by the researchers of at least two months of breastfeeding without regular replacement of any meal by supplemental feeding. Nonexclusive breastfeeding was defined as partial or no breastfeeding.

The researchers found that of the total population, 120 women (59 percent) intended to breastfeed exclusively for at least two months, while 42 women (20 percent) combined breastfeeding with supplemental feedings within the first two months after giving birth, and 39 women (19 percent) did not breastfeed. Additionally, most of the women, 88 percent, had used disease modifying therapy (DMT) agents before pregnancy.

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