The results of a study conducted by scientists from Monash University, the University of Melbourne and other research and clinical centers in Australia, as well as Italy and the Czech Republic, published In the magazine JAMA Neurology.
Multiple sclerosis – a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the myelin sheath of nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. The disease is usually diagnosed at a young age, and women suffer from it four times more often than men.
Scientists from Monash University have been maintaining a database of patients with multiple sclerosis for over 20 years, in which more than 70 thousand patients from 35 countries of the world are registered (in total, there are more than two and a half million patients with multiple sclerosis in the world).
To find out if pregnancy on the timing of the onset of the first symptoms of the disease, the researchers analyzed data on reproductive history (pregnancies, including miscarriages and abortions, childbirth, duration of breastfeeding) of 2557 women undergoing treatment in clinics in the Czech Republic and Australia. The median age of onset in the study participants was 31 years.
Analysis of the data showed that women who were pregnant at least once had the first symptoms of multiple sclerosis on average 3.3 years later than those who never became pregnant.
Likewise, women who reported pregnancy and gave birth had the disease on average 3.4 years later than those who never gave birth. At the same time, the number of pregnancies and childbirth does not affect the onset of the disease.
Further research is needed to determine what biological mechanisms underlie the discovered link between pregnancy and the development of multiple sclerosis. However, scientists suggest that pregnancy and associated changes in the level of cellular DNA may lead to a decrease in abnormal activity of the immune system.
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