Research: breastfeeding is associated with lower risk for MS

EpubConradi et al. Breastfeeding is associated with lower risk for multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler. 2012 Sep 4.

BACKGROUND: MS is an autoimmune disease with known genetic and environmental susceptibility factors. Breastfeeding has been shown to be protective in other autoimmune diseases.

OBJECTIVE: This case-control study analyzed the association of breastfeeding in infancy on the risk of developing MS.

METHODS: A case-control study was performed in Berlin of 245 MSers and 296 population-based controls, who completed a standardized questionnaire on their history and duration of breastfeeding in infancy and demographic characteristics. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to investigate the association between breastfeeding and MS. The multivariate model was adjusted for age, gender, number of older siblings, number of inhabitants in place of domicile between ages 0 and 6 (categorized in each case), and daycare attendance between ages 0 and 3.

RESULTS: In multivariable analysis, breastfeeding showed an independent association with MS (adjusted OR 0.58; p = 0.028). However, with no breastfeeding as reference, the protective effect only emerges after four months of breastfeeding (multivariable analysis for ≤ four months adjusted OR 0.87; p = 0.614 and for > four months OR 0.51; p = 0.016).

CONCLUSION: The results of this case-control study support the hypothesis that breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of MS. These results are in line with findings of previous studies on other autoimmune diseases, in which breastfeeding was shown to have protective effects.

“As with all epidemiological studies, this study needs to be scrutinised for bias, reproduced and the question needs to be asked is this cause or affect? In other words is breast feeding associated with another factor that is causal? For example, are woman who breast feed more likely to be on vitamin supplements, have a healthy diet that includes fatty fish, etc. Clearly there are health benefits to breast feeding that may affect how the immature immune system functions.”
Other posts on this blog in relation to breast feeding and pregnancy that may be of interest to you:

26 May 2012
“This meta-analysis gives me confidence to tell woman MSers that breast feeding is a good thing and lowers your risk of having a relapse in the 6 month post-partum period by approximately 50% compared to the risk if you did 
13 Jul 2011
“The results of this study challenge current clinical dogma and has implications for many woman with MS who have to make a difficult decision to either give their babies the health benefits of breast feeding, or to protect 
14 Jul 2011
Having children? In response to your comments in relation to the post on breast feeding and relapses this week’s survey will address the thorny question posed by you about having children. Please participate and have your 
15 Jul 2011
Neither breast-feeding nor epidural analgesia had an adverse effect on the rate of relapse or on the progression of disability in MS. Conclusion: In women with MS, the rate of relapse declines during pregnancy, especially in 

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