Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

Font Size

Childbirth May Slow Progression of MS

Some Multiple Sclerosis Patients Have Slower Progression of Disease if They've Given Birth
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 23, 2009 -- Childbirth appears to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis, whether a woman gives birth before her diagnosis or after, according to a Belgian study.

Women whose children were born after MS began were even more likely to have a slower progression of disease than those who children were born before symptoms began, compared to childless women, the researchers found.

''Although the largest difference was found between the women who had children after the onset of MS compared to the women without children, all patients who gave birth at any point in time seemed to do better than those who did not have children," says researcher Marie D'hooghe, MD, a neurologist at the National Multiple Sclerosis Center, Melsbroek, Belgium. The study is published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

The findings, however, shouldn't make childless women feel guilty they didn't ''help'' their disease by becoming pregnant, nor should it be a reason to attempt pregnancy, says Patricia O'Looney, PhD, vice president of biomedical research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, who reviewed the study for WebMD..

MS is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system, accounting for the most frequent cause of disability in young adults. Early symptoms, which can come and go, include tingling, numbing, loss of balance, and blurred vision. As the disease progresses, loss of balance and muscle coordination can make walking difficult.

Previous research has shown that MS tends to remit during pregnancy. ''The short-term effects of pregnancy on the course of MS have been repeatedly confirmed, with a lower relapse risk during the second and especially the third trimester and an increased relapse risk in the postpartum period," D'hooghe says. "As for the long-term effects, the findings have been mixed. Most studies did not find a long-term effect of childbirth on the disease course in MS."

Evaluating Progress of MS

For the study, D'Hooghe and her colleagues evaluated 330 women with MS, with an average of 18 years with the disease, between 2005 and 2007. All women had been referred to one center in Belgium and all had experienced their first symptoms from age 22 to about 38.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

nerve damage
Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
woman applying lotion
Ideas on how to boost your mood and self-esteem.
woman pondering
Get personalized treatment options.
man with hand over eye
Be on the lookout for these symptoms.
brain scan
worried woman
neural fiber
white blood cells
sunlight in hands
marijuana plant
muscle spasm