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Breastfeeding Shows Positive Effects For MS Patients

It has long been recognized that breastfeeding brings with it a multitude of benefits for the baby, including natural antibodies from the mother, and a sense of bonding which is stronger than that of bottle fed babies. New research has shown that mothers with Multiple Sclerosis may have even more benefits to look forward to. These findings were published in the journal of Neurology and show that even just nursing for the first two months can bring as many as 6 months of positive reaction to new Mom with MS.

The study shows that women with MS who nursed, found a reprieve from symptoms, which can include shaking drowsiness, blurry vision, tense muscles, and more. This is a huge deal to Multiple Sclerosis sufferers, who may not be able to take their medications while pregnant or nursing. Medical News Today writes: “During pregnancy, the body produces increased levels of corticosteroids as well as proteins that act as natural immunosuppressants. After giving birth, these natural benefits are reduced as hormones return to their pre-pregnancy levels – all of which contribute to a number of effects, including, for women with MS, a 20-30% chance of relapse within the first 3-4 months after delivery.”

This relapse may be avoidable for 6 months following the birthing process for moms who nurse rather than bottle feeding their infants. This means not dealing with all of the symptoms of MS while trying to care for a new baby.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

MS is still a medical mystery in many aspects. It is difficult to diagnose because it includes many symptoms that resemble those from other diseases and disorders. Ultimately, MS will need to be diagnosed by a neurologist, who will read results from a brain scan. This scan could show legions on the brain, where the autoimmune disease has begun to attack the myelin coating on nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

There is no cure for MS, but with an early diagnosis and proper treatment, many men and women with the disease can lead full and otherwise healthy lives, even having families of their own. Genetics do sometimes play a factor in MS, but it is not always something passed from mother to child, making it safe for those affected to have children.

In the past, women who were diagnosed with MS were advised not to have children. This was as far back as the 1960’s, when the progressive disease was shrouded in even more mystery than it is now. As research continued and the medical community grew to know more about MS, doctors were able to change their minds regarding mothers and children, and it is considered safe to become pregnant.

The New Study

The latest findings regarding MS and breastfeeding took data from more than 200 women over a four-year time span. Lead by Dr Kersin Hellwig, the team found that following nursing, babies were stronger, and mothers with MS showed that more than 70% of women went without a relapse for as many as 6 months. The research also deduced that many mothers didn’t feel symptoms return even as far as 12 months following the birthing process as they continued nursing and slowly moved babies to solid food and a bottle.

These findings are highly helpful, giving pregnant women with MS hope for the future. Breastfeeding cannot eradicate the disease altogether, but it certainly makes life easier when it is needed most. This also shows just how much breast feeding can help new mothers and infants in terms of better health. Baby Center reports: “Breast milk is best for your baby, and the benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition. In addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life, breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness.”

Breastfeeding has even shown to be helpful in the reduction of risk of IBS, heart disease, and both type one and two diabetes. While bottle feeding has been deemed healthy by nutritionists and medical professionals the world over, it is well documented that not nursing naturally can be cause for higher risks of digestive diseases and disorders. Babies who aren’t nursed also have a higher risk for allergies than those who are breastfed.

Other Benefits of Breast Milk

As mentioned above, one of the most important reasons to breastfeed is to offer your child protection against germs and illness. As mothers breastfeed they pass antibodies to new babies, allowing their bodies to better battle colds, or avoid more serious sickness, such as pneumonia. It not only acts as a protective barrier against short term sickness and infection, but can also guard against long term and chronic illnesses like Crohn’s disease. It is also beneficial for the mother; Fit Pregnancy explains: “The oxytocin released when your baby nurses helps your uterus contract, reducing post-delivery blood loss. Plus, breastfeeding will help your uterus return to its normal size more quickly—at about six weeks postpartum, compared with 10 weeks if you don’t breastfeed.”

Further research into the positive health benefits of breastfeeding continues still, with the hope that more findings, such as the effect of nursing for mothers with MS, will be made clear.

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