Multiple Sclerosis affects an estimated 2.5million people worldwide with women being 4 times more likely to have MS than men. A recent international study has found that pregnancy can delay the onset of MS by more than 3 years.
The study found that women who have been pregnant were diagnosed with their first MS symptoms, on average, 3.3 years later, compared to women who had never been pregnant. A similar delay in MS onset was also observed in women who had carried a baby to term – with onset delayed, on average, by 3.4 years.
The study into MS and pregnancy, led by Dr Vilija Jokubaitis, from the Monash University Department of Neuroscience, Australia, is the latest in dozens of high impact research studies into MS conducted using the MSBase database of more than 70,000 people with MS in 35 countries.
The global initiative, which has been operating for over 20 years is led by Professor Helmut Butzkueven, Monash University’s Department of Neuroscience.
Dr Jokubaitis studied more than 3600 women attending four MS clinics in two countries (Czech Republic, and Australia), all of whom were enrolled in MSBase.
Dr Jokubaitis said:
“At present, we don’t know exactly how pregnancy slows the development of MS, but we believe that it has to do with alterations made to a woman’s DNA. “
The MSBase Registry has been following patients over time in 35 countries with Multiple Sclerosis since 2001, and became an Australian not for profit Foundation in 2004. It coordinates and collates data from 160 collaborating clinics and follows over 71,000 patients. It supports 56 prospective investigator-initiated studies including multiple national and regional registries in Australia, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Canada, the Middle East and North Africa.
The research paper was published in JAMA Neurology titled: Association of Pregnancy with the onset of clinically isolated syndrome.
See also: Hayley Budge: Raising Awareness of MS