After a pregnancy or childbirth, most women who went on to develop clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) did so about three years later than those who were never pregnant, a large and multicenter study reported.
Multiple pregnancies or births, however, were not seen to further affect CIS onset.
More research is needed to understand the reasons pregnancy appears to have protective effects regarding the possible start of multiple sclerosis (MS).
CIS, a neurologic episode that lasts at least 24 hours, is often the first clinical presentation of this neurologic disease.
“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,” Vilija Jokubaitis, PhD, the study’s senior author and a neuroscientist at the Monash University, in Australia, said in a university press release.
“We are now seeking funding opportunities to explore this exciting possibility,” Jokubaitis added.
The study, “Association of Pregnancy With the Onset of Clinically Isolated Syndrome,” was published in the journal JAMA Neurology.
More than 2.5 million people worldwide are estimated to have MS, and women are three times more likely than men to be among them. Since MS occurs frequently among women of childbearing age, an increasing number of studies have focused on whether pregnancy affects disease onset and its course.
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