Pregnancy & MS: birth hospitalisation for MSers is no different to anybody else

#MSBlog: For female MSers; MS affect on the outcome of birth for both you and your baby.

Epub: Lu et al. On behalf of the British Columbia Multiple Sclerosis Clinic Neurologists. Birth hospitalization in mothers with multiple sclerosis and their newborns Neurology. 2013 Jan 9.

Background: To compare the duration of birth hospitalization in mothers with MS and their newborns relative to the general population and to investigate the impact of MS-related clinical factors on the length of birth hospitalization stays. 

Methods: Data from the British Columbia Perinatal Database Registry and the British Columbia MS database were linked in this retrospective cohort study. The duration of birth hospitalization in mothers with MS and their newborns (n = 432) were compared with a frequency-matched sample of the general population (n = 2,975) from 1998 to 2009. Clinical factors investigated included disease duration and disability, as measured by the Expanded Disability Status Scale. A multivariable model (generalized estimating equations) was used to analyze the association between MS and duration of birth hospitalization, adjusting for factors such as maternal age, diabetes, hypertension, and consecutive births to the same mother. Additional analyses included propensity score matching to further balance cohort characteristics. 

Results: Compared with the general population, the duration of birth hospitalization was not statistically or clinically different for mothers with MS or their newborns (median differences = +1.5 and +2.1 hours, respectively; adjusted p > 0.4). Lengths of birth hospitalization were not significantly associated with disease duration (adjusted p > 0.7) or level of disability (adjusted p > 0.5). Findings remained virtually unchanged after propensity score matching. 

Conclusions: Birth hospitalization has been understudied in women with MS. Contrary to existing studies, we found that MS was not associated with a longer birth hospitalization. This study provides assurance to expectant mothers with MS, their families, and health care providers. 

“Some more good news for female MSers and their families; your MS won’t affect the outcome of your labour and child. Let’s hope the naysayers stay away from issue of MSers having children; this has been debated on this blog many times.”

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.


  • There is a serious danger when clinicians endorse seriously ill people having children. Just because somebody can doesn't mean they should. Will you suggest that morbidly obese women should have children? Therefore, why is it okay for MSers?

    Right now, there is no cure for MS. It most often gets worse. It impacts on the sufferer as well as on the children they then choose to bear. Is it fair for children to function as future carers?

    Having children is not a human right. It is not essential for the MSer's wellbeing.

    • Nobody is endorsing MSers have children. We decided a long time ago on this blog that it's up to MSers and their partners to decide what to do. It is all about having the correct information on the table so you can make an informed decision.

      I agree that having children is not necessarily a human right and that it is not essential for the MSers' well-being. I say not necessarily, in this context, because some social groups may argue that it is human right!

    • What is more essential to one's wellbeing? Is it to have children or to be rid of a chronic neurological disease?

      To be honest, I'm glad that you stated that the right to bear children is not essential. The billions squandered on fertility and IVF treatments on the NHS whilst diseases like MS are deprived key medicines on cost grounds. A functioning nervous system is a definite human right, yet neurology only receives 3% of NHS health spending.

    • Just because you have MS doesn't mean your children will (although the risk is larger). As someone who got MS with no family history of it, I don't think I should be encouraged not to have a family in case I pass on MS.

By Prof G



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