Term pregnancies and the clinical characteristics of multiple sclerosis: a population based study

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2012 Aug;83(8):793-5. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2012-302848. Epub 2012 May 23.


Objective: Pregnancy has a well documented effect on relapse risk in multiple sclerosis (MS). Prospective studies have reported a significant decline by two-thirds in the rate of relapses during the third trimester of pregnancy and a significant increase by two-thirds during the first 3 months postpartum. However, it is unclear as to whether there are any long term effects on disability.

Methods: Data were collated from clinical records and family histories systematically collected from the University of British Columbia MS Clinic.

Results: Clinical and term pregnancy data were available from 2105 female MS patients. MS patients having children after MS onset took the longest time to reach an Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score of 6 (mean 22.9 years) and patients having children before MS onset were the quickest (mean 13.2 years). However, these effects were not related to term pregnancy and were fully accounted for by age of MS onset.

Conclusions: Pregnancy had no effect on the time to reach an EDSS score 6. As MS predominantly affects women of childbearing age, women with MS can be reassured that term pregnancies do not appear to have any long term effects on disability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Age
  • Multiple Sclerosis / etiology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / pathology
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Young Adult