Breastfeeding may reduce MS risk

July 18, 2017
According to a new study, mothers who breastfeed for a total of at least 15 months over one or more pregnancies may be less likely to develop multiple sclerosis compared with those who don't breastfeed at all or do so for up to four months. The researchers noted the study does not prove that breastfeeding is responsible for the reduced risk of MS, it only shows the association.
 
The study involved 397 women with an average age of 37 who were newly diagnosed with MS or clinically isolated syndrome. They were compared to 433 women matched for race and age. The women were given in-person questionnaires about pregnancies, breastfeeding, hormonal contraceptive use, and other factors.
 
Researchers found that women who had breastfed for a cumulative amount with one or more children for 15 months or more were 53 percent less likely to develop MS or clinically isolated syndrome than women who had a total of zero to four months of breastfeeding. A total of 85 of the healthy women had breastfed for 15 months or more, compared to 44 of the women with MS. For the healthy women, 110 breastfed for zero to four months, compared to 118 of the women with MS.
 
Limitations of the study include that the women were asked to remember information from years earlier, so they may not have remembered everything correctly, and that the reasons for not breastfeeding or breastfeeding only for a short period of time were not investigated.
 
The findings were published in the online issue of Neurology.

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