WEDNESDAY, Nov. 18, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that having multiple sclerosis puts pregnant women at slightly higher risk for giving birth via cesarean deliveries or having babies that grow at a slower rate in the womb.
But the researchers, whose findings were published online Nov. 18 in Neurology, also reported that pregnant women with MS were not more likely than other women to develop such conditions as preeclampsia or premature rupture of membranes.
The findings came from an examination of a national database that included details on about 18.8 million childbirths in 38 states, including deliveries by an estimated 10,000 women with MS.
The two groups of pregnant women differed somewhat. Those with MS were more likely than those without chronic medical conditions to have fetuses that suffered from restricted growth, as defined by weight measured through ultrasound. Among women with MS, 2.7 percent had fetuses in that category, compared with 1.9 percent of other women.
Women with MS were also more likely to have a cesarean delivery: 42 percent had a c-section, compared with 33 percent of other women.
However, the study found that women with MS had lower pregnancy complication rates than did women who had diabetes before becoming pregnant.
"These results are reassuring for women with MS," study author Dr. Eliza Chakravarty. of Stanford University School of Medicine. said in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology.
"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," Chakravarty said. "We found that women with MS did not have an increased risk of most pregnancy complications."
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has more about multiple sclerosis.