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Can I Breastfeed While Treating My MS?

 

ElizabethBy Elizabeth Salas, MPH, Teratology Information Specialist, MotherToBaby California

 

Welcoming a new baby brings a lot of excitement as well as questions, and every mom wants her new bundle of joy to get the best start possible. One of the best things a mom can do to give her newborn a healthy start is to breastfeed – but if you have a medical condition that requires taking medication, should that impact your decision about whether to breastfeed? Let’s review what we know about the medications used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) and what we know about their use in breastfeeding.

 

WHICH MEDICATIONS ARE SAFE TO USE WHILE BREASTFEEDING?

 

Corticosteroids are closely related to a naturally occurring hormone in the body called cortisol. These medications can be effective in treating relapses but do not change the long-term progress of MS. Prednisolone, methylprednisolone, triamcinolone, and dexamethasone are all corticosteroids that have been approved for the treatment of MS. Most corticosteroids are transferred into breast milk in small amounts.

 

Dexamethasone and triamcinolone are not as well studied during lactation, so other corticosteroids may be preferred especially when breastfeeding newborns or pre-term infants.

 

Prednisolone is an activated form of prednisone and doses are approximately equivalent for one compared to the other. Studies suggest prednisone doses up to 50mg a day are not likely to be a problem for breastfed infants. When using higher doses, postponing breastfeeding for 4 hours after administering the dose can reduce the amount of medication transferred into the breast milk, but is probably not necessary with usual oral doses. Methylprednisolone doses up to 8mg a day produce low levels in breast milk and are unlikely to cause negative effects in breastfed babies. When treating MS relapse or for monthly therapy with intravenous doses, various sources recommend avoiding breastfeeding during an infusion and for 4-8 hours afterwards. Overall, while corticosteroids have not been shown to cause negative effects on breastfed infants, occasionally these medications may cause a temporary loss of milk supply.

 

Disease Modifying Treatments are commonly used to treat and halt the progression of MS. Some information exists regarding the use of these medications in lactation, including the concentration of these medications in breast milk as well as individual and group reports of babies that have been breastfed.

 

Interferons are naturally occurring proteins that are made by cells of the immune system in response to bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances that invade the body. Medications that contain interferons include Betaseron® and Extavia® (interferon beta-1b), Avonex® and Rebif® (interferon beta-1a), and Plegridy® (peginterferon beta-1a). Interferon medications are made up of large proteins. The size of these proteins is expected to limit the transfer of the medication into breast milk. Based on studies measuring the levels of interferon beta-1a in breast milk, the relative dose received by the infant is estimated to be 0.006% of the maternal dose. This expected dose is very low and to date no adverse effects have been reported in breastfed infants. While levels of interferon beta-1b in breast milk have not been measured, some experts suggest the relative infant dose would likely be similar to the estimated dose received with interferon beta-1a treatment.

 

Copaxone® (glatiramer) has not been measured in breast milk. The intact drug would not be expected to transfer into breast milk because it is usually not detectable in the bloodstream. Once the drug starts to break down, it’s possible that some of the breakdown products reach the bloodstream. However, if medication were to pass into the breast milk, it is likely to be broken down in the infant gut. Of the disease-modifying agents used to treat MS, this appears to be the preferred treatment during breastfeeding.

 

There is limited published information about the use of Tysabri®(natalizumab) during breastfeeding. One case suggests that after initiating treatment, increasing amounts of the medication may transfer into breast milk over several weeks. Due to the large size of the protein molecule, it would probably be broken down in the gastrointestinal tract and is unlikely to be absorbed by the infant gut. Some experts recommend breastfeeding be avoided during treatment with Tysabri®, while others suggest that it should be used with caution until more information becomes available. Precaution should always be taken with newborns or pre-term infants, whose gastrointestinal tract is still maturing and who may be more likely to absorb a medication.

 

Tecfidera®(dimethyl fumarate), Gilenya®(fingolimod), and Aubagio®(teriflunomide) have not been studied during lactation and the amount of medication that passes into the breast milk is unknown. Due to a lack of information, alternate medications may be preferred for moms wishing to breastfeed. Novantrone®(mitoxantrone) is an antineoplastic treatment (cancer therapy) and little is known about safety during breastfeeding. When levels of the medication were measured in one patient’s breast milk, detectable levels were found 28 days after the last dose. Generally, most sources consider treatment with antineoplastic medications not compatible with breastfeeding.

 

WHY BREASTFEED?

 

There are many reasons to breastfeed including benefits for both baby and mom. Breast milk provides babies with the nutrients they need. As a baby gets older, the breast milk even changes to meet those changing needs. Babies also receive immunoglobulins from mom through breast milk, especially in the first few days after delivery. These special proteins help protect babies from getting infections. Breastfeeding also allows mom and baby to have close physical contact. This can be comforting for baby and may boost the levels of a hormone called oxytocin in mom. The release of oxytocin can help with the letdown of breast milk and can have a calming effect on mom. Breast fed infants are also less likely to experience vomiting and diarrhea as well as a serious gastrointestinal disease in pre-term infants called necrotizing enterocolitis. Studies have also found that the benefits of breastfeeding may extend into childhood, with lower rates of asthma, childhood obesity, ear infections, lower respiratory infections, eczema, childhood leukemia, type 2 diabetes, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) seen in children who were breastfed.

 

To learn about the benefits of breastfeeding and for additional information visit http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/

 

Some studies have found that breastfeeding may have a protective effect against postpartum MS relapses; however, disease activity may influence a patient’s decision to breastfeed or resume treatment. A recent review suggested that disease activity that is subclinical (i.e., not severe enough to have definite or observable symptoms) can be monitored in breastfeeding women using MRI with contrast. Also, monthly intravenous corticosteroids and immunoglobulin have been used to prevent or reduce the chances of postpartum relapse; however, to date no official organization has established recommendations while a woman is breastfeeding. Women with MS who choose to breastfeed should speak with their doctors about how to avoid potential triggers to minimize the chance of relapse or to keep symptoms from becoming worse.

 

It may not be possible for all moms with MS to treat their condition and breastfeed. It is important to remember that mom staying healthy or getting healthy doesn’t just benefit mom – a baby benefits from a mom that is able to care for herself and her little one. Your baby’s age, health, and whether they were born pre-term may also influence the decision to breast feed while treating your MS. To determine what’s right for you and your baby, we encourage you to speak with your doctors and your baby’s pediatrician regarding your options.

 

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

 

For more information about any of the medications discussed above or any other exposures during pregnancy or lactation, you can speak with a MotherToBaby counselor by calling us toll free at (866) 626-6847. Our service is FREE and confidential. If you’d like to know more about current MS pregnancy registries, please contact one of our MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies experts toll free at (877) 311-8972.

 

Stay tuned for our next blog, where we’ll review what we know about muscle relaxants, pituitary hormone, and neurologic agents for the treatment of MS in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

 

Elizabeth Salas is the Lead Teratology Information Specialist for MotherToBaby California, a non-profit that provides information to healthcare providers and the general public about medications and more during pregnancy and breastfeeding. She is based at the University of California, San Diego, and is passionate about the work MotherToBaby is doing to promote healthy moms, healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

 

Interested in more information about MS and pregnancy? Check out MotherToBaby’s March 2014 blog, “MS: The Diagnosis that Doesn’t Mean Missing Out on Motherhood!” and the December 2014 blog, “For Women with MS: Making Decisions about Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and More

 

MotherToBaby is a service of the international Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), a suggested resource by many agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have questions about medications, vaccines, diseases, or other exposures, call MotherToBaby toll-FREE at 866-626-6847 or call the Pregnancy Studies team directly at 877-311-8972. You can also visit MotherToBaby.org to browse a library of fact sheets, as well as visit our Multiple Sclerosis and Pregnancy page at MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies, www.PregnancyStudies.org.

 

References:

 

Bove R, Alwan S, Friedman JM, Hellwig K, Houtchens M, Koren G, Lu E, McElrath TF, Smyth P, Tremlett H, Sadovnick AD. Management of multiple sclerosis during pregnancy and the reproductive years: a systematic review. Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Dec;124(6):1157-68. PMID: 25415167

 

Clinical Pharmacology [database online]. Tampa, FL: Elsevier/Gold Standard, Inc.; 2015. URL: http://www.clinicalpharmacology.com

 

Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation 9th Edition [database online]. Briggs G.G., Freeman R.K., & Yaffe S.J. Wolters Kluwer Health – Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015. URL: http://solution.lww.com/briggsdrugsinpregnancy9e

 

Fragoso YD. Glatiramer acetate to treat multiple sclerosis during pregnancy and lactation: A safety evaluation. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2014;13:1743-8. PMID: 25176273

 

Fragoso YD, Boggild M, Macias-Islas MA et al. The effects of long-term exposure to disease-modifying drugs during pregnancy in multiple sclerosis. Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2013;115:154-9. PMID: 22633835

 

Hale, TW. Medications and Mother’s Milk – A Manual of Lactational Pharmacology 15th Edition. Amarillo, TX: Hale Publishing, L.P.; 2012.

 

Hale TW, Siddiqui AA, Baker TE. Transfer of interferon beta-1a into human breastmilk. Breastfeed Med. 2012;7:123-5. PMID: 21988602

 

LACTMED® [database online]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2015. Available from : http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/newtoxnet/lactmed.htm

 

REPROTOX® [database online]. Reproductive Toxicology Center. (2015). URL: http://www.reprotox.org/Default.aspx

 

Rowe H, Baker T, Hale TW. Maternal Medication, Drug Use, and Breastfeeding. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2015 Jan;24(1):1-20. doi: 10.1016/j.chc.2014.09.005. Epub 2014 Nov 14. PubMed PMID: 25455573.

In December 2014, we asked MyMSTeam members, like you, to participate in a survey about what matters to them in MS. We sent this survey because we believe that you should have a voice in how new MS treatments are developed and how companies prioritize the MS symptoms to tackle next. All the responses were anonymized and no personally identifying information was shared with anyone.

 

As promised, we are now sharing the results with you.

 

We believe that when you are diagnosed with MS, getting perspective and connecting with others with MS can help you better manage your life with the disease. Throughout the year we’ll continue to share research results like these with you. Even if you did not directly participate in this survey, we are writing this blog post as if you had, as you are part of the MyMSTeam community, and we want you to feel part of this information-sharing process. We’ll keep you posted on upcoming surveys.

 

Here are a couple of highlights from this “What Matters in MS” survey:

  • The top three DMTs (disease modifying therapies) were Tecfidera, Tysabri, and Copaxone.
  • More than half indicated they had switched MS therapies within the past two years, and the majority of them switched to an oral drug like TecfideraGilenya, and Aubagio.

Below you’ll find the rest of the results “What Matters in MS” survey. (Click the infographic below to enlarge it.)

Infographic_MS_WhatMatters

“Be patient. Wait. No rush. You have plenty of time.”
 

How many times during your life have you heard these words of wisdom being uttered by those around you? I don’t think I can count.

 

clock

I have always been a very determined, sometimes slightly “manic” person when I have my focus set on something I want to do, and it may appear sometimes that I am rushing, hurrying, and pushing the limits. This is not really the case, however. Since I was diagnosed with MS, I now have a sense of urgency that I never knew before. My time is unknown, undetermined, unpredictable. Tomorrow, I may or may not have the same cognitive and physical abilities that I have today.

It is a very interesting way of life, isn’t it? Living with an illness that threatens to take your functions away on a daily basis. It can be an incredible depressant, or it can motivate like nothing else. The luxury of time is something we just simply do not have.

 

My focus has been on writing lately, and it gives me a sense of continued purpose…As long as I continue to write, I feel like the beast won’t catch me. The monster won’t quite be able to overtake me. Just write…write…write…

 

The entire mindset shifts with a chronic illness, and time no longer seems like something that exists in an endless supply. It becomes rare, precious, priceless in our eyes, because it is a commodity that may be taken from us in an instant. How do we cope? How do we avoid being sucked into the void of depression? How do we use this awareness of the value of time to our advantage? Because the truth is, it may actually be a gift in disguise.

 

The awareness of time. It is the opposite of rushing through the day, hurrying from place to place. It is the antithesis of racing through daily obligations, ignorant of the beautiful things happening all around you. The awareness of time is the practice of being truly in the moment. Looking around, taking it all in. The colors, the smells, the sounds, the feelings. The temperature, the tastes, the observations. This is the place we all should be, but it seems to be impossible for so many in our hurried society.

 

If you have found yourself out of work because of your illness, disabled, unable to spend your days at a job, you may have the opportunity to experience true awareness of time. This is a gift, something many people will never have the opportunity to enjoy. This awareness takes practice, but give it a try. Even sitting in your own home, you may begin to notice the things around you that were taken for granted previously. If you are still working and parenting, busily raising children and trying to make ends meet, the awareness and appreciation of time is more difficult. Not impossible, however…

 

Your time is even more limited, rare, and scarce. You must work even harder to find that precious moment of awareness. The stress of daily life interferes with our ability to notice the simple things in life, and this is the unfortunate reality for most people. The battle to both maintain a household and family, and enjoy our lives is ongoing and difficult. If we don’t work at it, it generally will not happen. Make enjoyment and awareness a priority in your life, no matter what the circumstances might be.

 

Remember, try to spend a little time each day being truly aware.

 

meagan

By Meagan Freeman, a Nurse Practitioner (RN, FNP-BC), Mother of Six With Multiple Sclerosis, and member of MyMSTeam.com. Interested in reading more from Meagan? Connect with her on www.MyMSTeam.com, follow her blog, and follow her on Twitter @motherhoodandMS. 

Happy New Year from MyMSTeam!

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t met.”

                                    -William Butler Yeats

 

Happy_Holidays

We’re very grateful for your presence on MyMSTeam, and hope you’ll continue
to visit and connect with us, and more importantly, the members of MyMSTeam.

Have a wonderful new year in 2015! Your friends at MyMSTeam.

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Elizabeth

 

By Elizabeth Salas, MPH, Teratology Information Specialist, MotherToBaby California

 

 

Whether you are planning pregnancy or currently pregnant, some of the most important decisions you make will be regarding medication use during pregnancy. For many women with multiple sclerosis (MS), navigating through different sources of information and deciding on treatment during pregnancy can be difficult. In addition to talking to your providers, you will want to be informed of the latest and most accurate information on medication use during pregnancy. Let’s begin with the basics.

 

How Do We Know A Medication Is Safe During Pregnancy?

To answer this question, we will want to know the following:

 

  • How much information is known about my medication when it is used during pregnancy? What is the quality of that information?

 

The quality and quantity of the information published is very important. For some medications, there may be no human pregnancy reports and information may be limited to animal studies. Other times individual cases of pregnant women are reported, but without being a part of a larger study or group of cases, we cannot draw conclusions based on these types of reports. Since we cannot test the safety of new medications in pregnant women, we rely mostly on observational pregnancy studies. An observational study follows pregnant women who have taken a medication before they knew they were pregnant or who took the medication during pregnancy because their medical condition required ongoing treatment during pregnancy.

 

  • Have any problems been reported in pregnancy or for the baby, including birth defects, newborn complications, or long-term effects?

 

Considering all the research studies on a specific medication, we want to know if the information suggests the medication could increase the risk for birth defects, and if a pattern of birth defects has been identified. The key words here are increase and pattern. In every pregnancy regardless of whether she is taking any medication or not, a woman starts out with a 3-5% chance of having a baby with a birth defect; this is called the background risk.1 So a medication that increases the risk of birth defects above the background risk could be concerning. A pattern of birth defects is important because most medications or exposures that affect a developing baby usually cause a distinct pattern of birth defects during pregnancy.

 

What Are The Current Recommendations For Disease Modifying Treatments During Pregnancy?

 

Currently there are no official recommendations for treatment of MS during pregnancy because there is not enough research to establish the safety of disease modifying treatments (DMTs). So decisions to use or continue DMT treatment during pregnancy should be made on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes the benefits of using a medication during pregnancy may outweigh the risks; only you and your healthcare provider can determine if that’s the case for you.

 

What Do We Know About Disease Modifying Treatments For MS During Pregnancy?

 

There are nearly a dozen DMTs available for the treatment of MS. More is known about older medications called beta-interferons (e.g., Betaseron®, Avonex®, Extavia®, and Rebif®). Studies of pregnancies exposed to a beta-interferon did not suggest an increased chance for birth defects above the background risk.2 In other words, the birth defects seen in these pregnancies were not above what is expected in the general population. In addition, no pattern of birth defects was identified. Because information is still limited we cannot determine the safety of these medications, but to date the information has not suggested a risk for women exposed to beta-interferons very early in pregnancy.

 

Copaxone® (glatiramer) has not been shown to increase the risk for birth defects; but while the data are reassuring, this is based on limited study of the drug in human pregnancies, so further studies are needed.3 Tysabri®(natalizumab) has also not been associated with an increased risk for birth defects to date, but again information is limited. Also, one study suggested that newborns exposed to Tysabri® may be at risk for complications including reduced red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body, platelets play an important role in blood clotting, and white blood cells are a critical part of the immune system that fight off infections. It is expected that more of the medication crosses the placenta later in pregnancy, meaning the effects may be greater during later stages of pregnancy – but more studies are needed to determine the safety of Tysabri® in pregnancy.2

 

No human pregnancy studies have been published on Tecfidera®(dimethyl fumarate) and Gilenya®(fingolimod), but animal studies suggest possible risk in pregnancy.4 Until more information is available, the safety of these treatments in pregnancy is unknown.

 

Aubagio®(teriflunomide) and Novantrone®(mitoxantrone) have also not been studied in human pregnancy. Animal studies suggest an increased risk of birth defects, so until more data are available it is recommended that women using these medications use appropriate contraception4 to prevent pregnancy, as the risk or safety of these medications in human pregnancies cannot be determined at this time.5,6 Women taking teriflunomide who are planning a pregnancy may receive a separate treatment to reduce the levels of medication in their body before they become pregnant; this treatment may also be used with pregnant women who took teriflunomide before they knew they were pregnant.

 

How Can We Learn More About MS And Treatments During Pregnancy?

We have a lot to learn about MS during pregnancy as well as the safety of the medications used to treat it. The information available on medications and treatments relies on pregnant and breastfeeding women who are willing to share their experience with others in a confidential manner, so we recommend that all pregnant women participate in a pregnancy registry regardless of their medication use. To better understand medication safety, it is important to compare different groups of pregnant women including those with MS who are not taking medication, those with MS who are taking medication, and those who do not have MS. In short, all pregnant women are needed to help us find answers! Pregnancy registries are strictly observational, meaning that you are not asked to change anything about your normal routine, including the medications you are taking. Contact one or more of the below registries to learn more:

 

Multiple Sclerosis Pregnancy Registry – Studying all treatments for MS: (877) 311-8972

Aubagio® Pregnancy Registry: (877) 311-8972

Avonex® Pregnancy Registry: (800) 456-2255

Betaseron® Pregnancy Registry: (800) 478-7049

Tysabri® Pregnancy Exposure Registry: (800) 456-2255

Tecfidera® Pregnancy Registry: (800) 456-2255

Gilenya® Pregnancy Registry: (877) 598-7237

 

Where Can I Get More Information?

 

We encourage you to speak with your doctor to discuss treatments, options, and what you can expect during pregnancy. For more information about any of the medications discussed above or any other exposures during pregnancy or lactation, you can speak with a MotherToBaby counselor by calling us toll free at (866) 626-6847. Our service is FREE and confidential. If you’d like to know more about current MS and pregnancy registries, please contact one of our MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies experts toll free at (877) 311-8972.

 

Stay tuned for our next blog, which will review what we know about MS treatments while breastfeeding.

 

 

 

Elizabeth Salas is the Lead Teratology Information Specialist for MotherToBaby California, a non-profit that provides information to healthcare providers and the general public about medications and more during pregnancy and breastfeeding. She is based at the University of California, San Diego, and is passionate about the work MotherToBaby is doing to promote healthy moms, healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

Interested in more information about MS and pregnancy? Check out MotherToBaby’s March 2014 blog, “MS: The Diagnosis that Doesn’t Mean Missing Out on Motherhood!” and the December 2014 blog, “For Women with MS: Making Decisions about Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and More

 MotherToBaby is a service of the international Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), a suggested resource by many agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have questions about medications, vaccines, diseases, or other exposures, call MotherToBaby toll-FREE at 866-626-6847 or call the Pregnancy Studies team directly at 877-311-8972. You can also visit MotherToBaby.org to browse a library of fact sheets, as well as visit our Multiple Sclerosis and Pregnancy page at MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies, www.PregnancyStudies.org.

 

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References:

  1. Teratology Primer, Second Edition. Teratology Society. (2010). URL: http://www.teratology.org/primer.asp
  2. REPROTOX® [database online]. Reproductive Toxicology Center. (2014). Updated April 2014 (Interferons). URL: http://www.reprotox.org/Default.aspx
  3. Tsui, A., & Lee, M. A. (2011). Multiple sclerosis and pregnancy. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 23(6):435-9. doi: 10.1097/GCO.0b013e32834cef8f.
  4. Clinical Pharmacology [database online]. Tampa, FL: Elsevier/Gold Standard, Inc.; 2014. URL:http://www.clinicalpharmacology.com
  5. Houtchens, M.K., & Kolb, C. M. (2013). Multiple sclerosis and pregnancy: therapeutic considerations. Journal of Neurology, 260(5):1202-14. doi: 10.1007/s00415-012-6653-9.
  6. TERIS® [database online]. Teratogen Information System, University of Washington. (2014). Reviewed 2014 (Teriflunomide). URL: http://depts.washington.edu/terisweb/teris/

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Elizabeth

By Elizabeth Salas, MPH, Teratology Information Specialist, MotherToBaby California

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 If you have Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and are currently pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy, where do you go when you have questions about MS or MS treatments? In this day and age, the first place you might go is the Internet. With no shortage of information at our fingertips, it may seem the answers to all of our questions are just a web search away. But when it comes to chronic conditions and treatments in pregnancy, reliable and accurate information isn’t always easy to find, and the answers may not be so simple. So let’s try a different approach, shall we? First, let’s start with the facts!

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The Good News

Studies about MS and pregnancy are encouraging. To date they show MS does not affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant. For most women with MS, they are less likely to have a relapse during pregnancy especially in the 3rd trimester. Research shows pregnancy does not worsen MS or the progression of the disease1. MS during pregnancy also does not increase the risk for birth defects, and does not increase the risk of major complications in pregnancy, during delivery, or for the newborn2. In fact, some studies suggest pregnancy may have a protective effect for women, by slowing down or reducing the progression of MS – although more research is needed to confirm this finding3.

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Making Progress in Treating MS

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 Ten years ago only a handful of treatments were available to treat MS. These medications, such as Betaseron® (Interferon Beta-1b) or Avonex® (Interferon Beta-1a), are called disease modifying medications because they slow down the natural course of MS while reducing the number and severity of relapses. Today there are twice as many disease modifying medications available – but the big question here is what do we know about these treatments during pregnancy or lactation?

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The somewhat frustrating answer is that there is very little information about the safety of the newest medications during pregnancy or lactation. For this reason, standard practice has generally suggested women with MS stop treatment with disease modifying medications at least 1 menstrual cycle prior to attempting to conceive4. Older medications used to improve symptoms during a relapse, such as Solu-Medrol® (methylprednisolone) or prednisone, have been around since the 1950s5 and much has been published on their use in pregnancy6. (For more information about prednisone/prednisolone in pregnancy and lactation, see our Fact Sheet.) Regardless of which medications you may be taking, it’s important for women with MS to plan their pregnancies and discuss treatment and options with your doctor before trying to become pregnant.

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But what if your pregnancy, like nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States, was not planned? You may still have many questions about how your MS – and any medication you may be taking to treat it – could impact your pregnancy, such as: Could my medication have an effect on my developing baby? Will additional tests be needed during pregnancy to make sure my baby is all right? Should I continue taking my MS medications during pregnancy? If I stopped my medication, when can – or when should – I start taking them again? Can I breastfeed while taking these medications? The questions may seem overwhelming, but the good news is there are specialists who can answer your questions and they are just a phone call away!

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Making The Call

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Hello and thank you for calling MotherToBaby. We’re here for you!

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I am a counselor with MotherToBaby, a group of experts dedicated to providing women, healthcare providers, and the general public with accurate and up-to-date information on exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding. We answer questions about everything from medications and cosmetics, to chronic conditions, like multiple sclerosis. Our service is FREE, confidential, and available for you. To speak to a counselor, call us toll free at (866) 626-6847.

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Making A Difference

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Every pregnant woman wants a healthy pregnancy. After personally talking to pregnant women with chronic conditions for nearly a decade, one thing has become very clear: we need better answers about how medications affect pregnancy. MotherToBaby has a follow-up program for pregnant women with MS, regardless of whether they are currently taking medication. We are learning more every day thanks to pregnant women with MS who are sharing information about their experiences. If you’d like to know more about current programs on MS and pregnancy, please contact one of our MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies experts toll free at (877) 311-8972. You can help us make a difference, and together we can find the answers.

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Stay tuned for our next blog, which will review the latest information on disease modifying medications.

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Elizabeth Salas is the Lead Teratology Information Specialist for MotherToBaby California, a non-profit that provides information to healthcare providers and the general public about medications and more during pregnancy and breastfeeding. She is based at the University of California, San Diego, and is passionate about the work MotherToBaby is doing to promote healthy moms, healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

Interested in more information about MS and pregnancy? Check out MotherToBaby’s March 2014 blog, “MS: The Diagnosis that Doesn’t Mean Missing Out on Motherhood!

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MotherToBaby is a service of the international Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), a suggested resource by many agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have questions about medications, vaccines, diseases, or other exposures, call MotherToBaby toll-FREE at 866-626-6847 or call the Pregnancy Studies team directly at 877-311-8972. You can also visit MotherToBaby.org to browse a library of fact sheets, as well as visit our Multiple Sclerosis and Pregnancy page at MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies, www.PregnancyStudies.org.

Infographic MyMSTeam RRMS Treatments

In just one year, MyMSTeam has grown from 30 people with multiple sclerosis in the San Francisco Bay Area to nearly 20,000 MS-ers across North America. Since we launched MyMSTeam.com in the Spring of 2013, we’ve been asked by spouses of people living with multiple sclerosis, and the parents of children with multiple sclerosis to be permitted to join the site. We’ve also received requests from those diagnosed with MS to allow their loved ones to join. With the utmost respect for their wishes, we waited until we could ask the MyMSTeam.com community (originally created just for people diagnosed with MS) what they wanted.
read more…

A few months ago we shared the results of a MyMSTeam survey on the topic of clinical research.  85% of you who responded to that survey said you’d like MyMSTeam to notify you of relevant clinical trials in MS as they come up.   We took that to heart.    As a first step, we recently partnered with Biogen Idec to share news of the ALLOW study which focuses on people with relapsing-remitting MS who are currently taking a standard interferon beta (IFN-β) therapy such as AVONEX® (interferon beta 1b), BETASERON® (interferon beta 1a), or Rebif® (interferon beta 1a).  The study will be conducted in select cities around the United States (a complete list of which is at the bottom of this post).
read more…

The following is a personal story from Kate, a member of MyMSTeam, the social network for those diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. With her permission, we’ve shared the story she shared with thousands of MS-ers on MyMSTeam.  If you’ve been diagnosed with MS, go to www.MyMSTeam.com and connect with others who ‘get it.’  Thousands from all over the country are here to share not only their stories, but their daily lives: the good days and bad days of living with MS. 

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read more…

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