Objective: To compare the duration of birth hospitalization in mothers with multiple sclerosis (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.