Just this week I received the winter 2010 issue of Momentum, the magazine from the National MS Society. Its cover story, "MS and Starting a Family," deals with many of your questions. I encourage you to find a copy (perhaps from your local NMSS office); their website, http://www.nationalmssociety.org/multim ... index.aspx does not yet have the winter issue posted. (I have not checked recently – the winter issue maybe posted by now.)
Although I do not agree with the premise that MS is an autoimmune disease (I think that in my case excess insulin initiates the MS cascade), and I found no improvement when taking the disease-modifying drugs, the article makes good points:
Page 26, "… none of the disease-modifying drugs, including Avonex, Betaseron, Rebif, Tysabri, and Copaxone, are approved for use during pregnancy. Though these drugs haven't been proven to increase birth defects or affect development in unborn babies, most doctors tell their patients to stop – not only during pregnancy but for several months before trying to conceive. Indeed, some animal studies have found a higher rate of miscarriage with the interferon-based MS drugs."
Page 27, "During pregnancy, the mother's body releases estrogen and other hormones that suppress her immune response so she doesn't reject the baby. This natural immunosuppressant effect puts MS into a very quiet state, especially during the third trimester."
Page 32, "The breastfeeding conundrum:… just as in pregnancy, doctors usually recommend staying off disease-modifying drugs while you breastfeed. (You can take steroids while nursing, however.) If you decide to stay off your med and breastfeed, there is some evidence that nursing might protect you. 'The protection afforded through breastfeeding can be as beneficial, or more so, than the immune-suppressant drugs,' said Elsie E Gulick, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor emeritus at the Rutgers University College of Nursing, Newark, N.J.
When she studied new mothers with MS, Dr. Gulick discovered that women who did not breastfeed were three times more likely to have relapses and mothers who breastfed during the first three months of their baby's life. In other research, 87% of women who didn't breastfeed had a relapse in the first two months after delivery, compared with only 36% of women who breastfed exclusively."
MrsGeorge wrote:Sorry I haven't been around in quite a while. I'm hoping you guys can help me. I'm 15 weeks pregnant and as it looks like this one is actually going to stick, I am trying to find out everything I can about Copaxone & breastfeeding. I have been told that my neuro won't prescribe it to me if I plan to feed but I am hoping to find out what info is out there. If there is evidence that is safe I would like to be able to present it to him so that he can make an informed decision rather than just go with the party line.
I won't take anything if it is not safe for the baby but I really do not want to be relapsing with a newborn if there is anything I can do to stop it.
Thanks very much.
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