Breastfeeding and Multiple Sclerosis, what's the connection?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) affecting mostly women with age of onset between 20 and 50 years. The incidence in the USA is about 1 per 1000, while internationally it is 1 per million.
A study by Christensen in 1975 found that lack of breastfeeding resulted in the synthesis of abnormally unstable myelin with a tendency to breakdown during young adulthood. This results in MS.
In parts of Mexico, with the decline in breastfeeding, their incidence of MS has increased.
Phospholipids are manufactured in the breast and transferred into the breastmilk. These are believed to play a vital role in the myelinization of the CNS.
For those women with MS many will opt not to breastfeed their babies after delivery so they can resume their MS medications. In April Dr. Langer-Gould will be presenting a paper at the American Neurology Conference that demonstrates a significantly reduced risk for postpartum MS relapse when the mother breastfeeds.