The study also shows that women with MS are no more likely to have other
problems with pregnancy, such as high blood pressure and premature rupture of
membranes, than women in the general population, says Victoria Kelly, MD, and
colleagues from Stanford University School of Medicine.
Their study is published in the November online edition of
"These results are reassuring for women with MS," says study co-researcher
Eliza Chakravarty, MD, MS. "Women and their doctors have been uncertain about
the effect of MS on pregnancy, and some women have chosen to delay or even
avoid pregnancy due to the uncertainty."
Previous studies on MS and pregnancy have focused on the impact of pregnancy
on disease activity, the researchers say in a news release. But Chakravarty
says her team found that women with MS "did not have an increased risk of most
The researchers analyzed data on 18.8 million deliveries in 38 states, with
about 10,000 of those occurring in women with MS.
The researchers also looked at women who had diabetes before becoming
pregnant and found that they had higher rates of complications than women with
A higher percentage of women with MS (2.7%) compared to the general
population of women (1.9%) were found to have a fetus with intrauterine growth
restriction, or have weight less than the 10th percentile for the gestational
Forty-two percent of women with MS had C-sections, compared with 33% of
pregnant women in the general population. The increased risk for cesarean
delivery was 30% higher for women with MS and 50% higher for women with
"Multiple sclerosis and epilepsy are two chronic neurologic disorders
affecting women of childbearing age," according to Kelly and colleagues.
"Because of disease complexity, concomitant medications and potential for
disease exacerbation, women with these conditions may delay or avoid
"Despite significant advances in management of these chronic diseases, many
patients and physicians remain uncertain of the potential risks associated with
pregnancy and delivery," the researchers write. "Our results demonstrate that
pregnancy outcomes for women with MS are generally reassuring."
The researchers say future research should examine medications and other
variables that lead to cesarean delivery and intrauterine growth
Gary M. Franklin, MD, MPH, of the University of Washington, and Helen
Tremlett, PhD, of the University of British Columbia, write in an accompanying
editorial that the new study is "a welcome addition" to previous research,
providing "critical information" for doctors and women who are pregnant or are
considering pregnancy who have MS or epilepsy.
They say the article by Kelly and colleagues illuminates the question of
risks of pregnancy problems for women with MS and epilepsy.