But each woman's circumstances are different, expert cautions,,
MONDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) -- New moms with multiple sclerosis who want to breast-feed but worry it might cause their disease to relapse may be reassured by a new study that discovered this is not the case for most women.
The study, in the June 8 issue of Archives of Neurology, found that almost two of three women with multiple sclerosis (MS) who breast-fed exclusively for two months or more and who were not taking MS medications did not experience a relapse of their disease while they were breast-feeding.
"The most important thing for patients and physicians to know is that there's no evidence that breast-feeding is harmful for women with MS," said study author Dr. Annette Langer-Gould, who was at Stanford University at the time of the study but is now a neurologist and research scientist with Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena.
"If mothers decide to breast-feed and do what's best for baby, we couldn't see any evidence of risk, and it may even be better for mothers to breast-feed," she said.
How breast-feeding might help suppress a relapse, despite a lack of medications, isn't clear. In people with MS, the body's immune system mistakenly attacks myelin, a substance that covers nerve fibers, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Langer-Gould said that researchers have long known that women with MS often go into remission during pregnancy, which might indicate that hormones play some role in dampening the immune response that causes damage to the myelin. However, she said. the study's finding of continued MS remission during breast-feeding would suggest that pregnancy hormones, which decrease dramatically once the baby is delivered, cannot be the only reason for the suppression of MS.
"Previous research has ignored the postpartum factor, and what our study suggests -- if these fi
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