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Julie  Stachowiak, Ph.D.

Why Do MS Symptoms Improve During Pregnancy?

By March 25, 2007

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While my pregnancy came complete with morning sickness, heartburn and other discomforts, all of my MS symptoms disappeared completely. This is reported by the majority of women with MS who become pregnant. The hormone prolactin, which is produced in large amounts during pregnancy in order to prepare the body for breastfeeding, might be the reason.

Canadian scientists have recently published data from a study that shows that prolactin seems to aid the body in remyelination, the rebuilding and repair of myelin (the fatty sheath surrounding nerve fibers) that is damaged during MS relapses. The study compared pregnant to non-pregnant mice, and found that the pregnant ones had twice as many myelin-producing cells (called oligodendrocytes) as the non-pregnant mice.

Scientists are excited about the eventual use of prolactin as a therapy for people with MS and trials could start in the next few years. This is good news for those of us not able (men) or not willing (me) to stay pregnant to keep our MS in remission.

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