Pregnancy Rates Rise Among Women with MS Over Past Decade in US, Study Shows

Joana Carvalho, PhD avatar

by Joana Carvalho, PhD |

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In recent years, pregnancy rates have increased among women with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the United States, according to a retrospective study, but the rate of pregnancy complications is similar between women with MS and those who don’t have the disease.

The study, “Pregnancy rates and outcomes in women with and without MS in the United States,” was published in the journal Neurology.

MS is a neurodegenerative, autoimmune disease that affects three times more women than men, especially women of childbearing age. Several studies have been published reporting pregnancy outcomes in women with MS outside the U.S. However, in the U.S., only a few studies assessed the prevalence of pregnancy complications, and no study has ever analyzed pregnancy rates among women diagnosed with MS.

In this retrospective study based on administrative claims, researchers aimed to analyze and compare pregnancy prevalence and complications in women with and without MS in the U.S.

Between January 2006 and June 2015, the study collected clinical data from nine different groups of women with MS (36,361 to 58,218 women) and without MS (735,974 to 1,144,868 women).

Results showed that from 2006 to 2014, the proportion of women with MS who conceived increased from 7.91% to 9.47%, while the percentage of women without MS who conceived decreased from 8.83% to 7.75%. This translated to a significant increase in annual pregnancy rates of 0.17% for MS women, and a decrease of 0.15% for women without the disease.

“The increase in pregnancy rates among patients with MS may suggest that clinicians are becoming more comfortable managing the complex reciprocal effects of MS and pregnancy and that significant efforts on the part of the MS neurology community to educate the public and general neurologists are allowing more women with MS to experience motherhood,” the researchers wrote.

Despite pregnancy complications being relatively high in both groups, more women with MS had claims of premature labor (31.4% vs. 27.4%), infection (13.3% vs. 10.9%), cardiovascular disease (3% vs. 1.9%), anemia/acquired coagulation disorders (2.5% vs. 1.3%), neurologic complications (1.6% vs. 0.6%), sexually transmitted diseases (0.4% vs. 0.1%), acquired fetal damage (27.8% vs. 23.5%), and congenital fetal malformations (13.2% vs. 10.3%), compared with women without MS.

“These data, which are derived from reimbursement information or the payment of bills for healthcare services and commodities, can improve our knowledge of the interactions that patients with pregnancy and MS have with the healthcare system, but they should be interpreted with caution. For example, there may be increased health care resource utilization in women with MS because of increased vigilance of clinicians caring for these patients,” the researchers wrote.

These findings indicate that the proportion of women with MS who conceived has been steadily increasing over the past 10 years in the U.S., and that the rates of pregnancy complications are similar between women with and without MS.

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