If You Have MS, Should You Stop Treatment During Pregnancy?

A new study looks at the impact of a drug to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) on children of patients who take it during pregnancy, reports News Wise. Some MS patients take an alternative drug for their MS called natalizumab because they experience severe side effects or little benefit from other treatments. However, researchers believe the drug might have an effect on the unborn child. Halting the drug could affect the mother. So when is it safe to stop taking the drug? Will these MS patients’ symptoms resurface?

The study suggests that found if MS patients who stop taking the drug due to pregnancy face a risk of experiencing disease symptoms again. If they wait until conception to halt drug intake, the risk could be reduced. These findings were  published in Neurology. Additionally, another study shows that if the drug is taken during the first trimester of pregnancy, the possibility of a miscarriage is increased.

Other studies suggests that there are no grand risks with MS patients and birth defects, yet if a mother stops her medication, she may experience more symptoms. This makes it extremely difficult for MS patients and their families to plan having children as they weigh out the risk factors.

The study looked at 83 different women and 92 pregnancies, to study the affects of the drug. Half the group stopped taking natalizumab prior to their last period, and the other half stopped after. Among those that took the drug, their rate of relapse was three times more likely than those who did not take it. During their actual pregnancies, out of those that did take it, 37% had one relapse compared to the 10% of those who did not expose themselves to the drug. Additionally, the rate of those exposed to the drug showed higher risk for miscarriage than those who were not — yet, the percentage, 17%, is not much higher than the general population rate of 14%.

Researchers agree there is a lot more research that needs to be done before they can find more solid, conclusive results. For now, women with MS are advised to continue taking their medication until they test positive for pregnancy, at which point they should discontinue use. If you are in this situation, it’s best to consult with your doctor.


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