Pregnancy and multiple sclerosis: Clinical effects across the lifespan

Autoimmun Rev. 2019 Oct;18(10):102360. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2019.102360. Epub 2019 Aug 8.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is commonly diagnosed in women of childbearing age. Having a greater understanding of the effects of pregnancy on the course of MS will lead to improved family-planning counselling for women. We found well-established evidence for a protective effect of pregnancy on relapse occurrence in historical cohorts. More recent studies suggest that the protective effect of pregnancy against relapse may be lost in those women with more active disease treated with high efficacy therapies. Furthermore, a strong body of evidence suggests that gravidity after diagnosis of MS does not lead to worse long-term outcomes. More contentious however, is whether pregnancy can delay a first episode of demyelination or a confirmed diagnosis of MS. This review provides a detailed analysis of the literature relating to the clinical effects of pregnancy on MS outcomes across a woman's reproductive lifespan.

Keywords: Disability; Gravidity; Multiple sclerosis; Parity; Pregnancy; Relapse.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Recurrence