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AAN: Breast-Feeding Benefits Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Exclusive breast-feeding for at least two months significantly reduces postpartum relapse risk

FRIDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- In new mothers with multiple sclerosis, exclusive breast-feeding may significantly reduce the risk of postpartum relapses, according to research that will be presented April 25-May 2 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Seattle.

Annette Langer-Gould, M.D., of Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., and colleagues studied 32 pregnant women with multiple sclerosis and 29 age-matched pregnant controls who were assessed during each trimester and at two, four, six, nine and 12 months postpartum.

Among the multiple sclerosis patients, the researchers found that the rate of postpartum relapse was significantly lower among those who breast-fed exclusively for at least two months compared to those who did not breast-feed or began regular supplemental feedings within two months postpartum (36 percent versus 87 percent). Although most of the women who avoided breast-feeding did so in order to resume multiple sclerosis therapy, the researchers found that the risk of relapse was significantly higher among those who restarted therapy within two months postpartum than in those who did not, regardless of breast-feeding status. They also found that exclusive breast-feeding was associated with a later return of menses.

"Our findings call into question the benefit of foregoing breast-feeding in order to start multiple sclerosis therapies and should be confirmed in a larger study," the authors conclude.

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