Jodi Haartsen, MS Limited’s Executive Manager for Client Engagement and Wellbeing and a MS Nurse for almost 20 years, joins Dave to talk about  the latest research into MS and Pregnancy.

 

The prevalence of MS in women in their 20s and 30s and their key concerns when diagnosed and the importance of a 360 degree holistic approach to health and wellbeing has prompted the research.

 

As part of Women’s Health Week (7-11 September 2020) MS Limited is sharing the good news that pregnancy is definitely an option for women of reproductive age diagnosed with MS.
Experts in a newly published article in the UK medical journal – Advances in Clinical Neuroscience & Rehabilitation, saythat there is no evidence of worsening of MS-related long term disability associated with pregnancy, and there may even
be some long-term benefits.
Evidence suggests that the disease itself has no negative impact on pregnancy outcomes or fertility and that pregnancy rates in people with MS are increasing worldwide, as more research emerges reassuring women that pregnancy is safe
and has no negative impacts.

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Dr Charmaine Yam from the Royal Free Hospital in London says that new evidence provides further reassurance to newly-diagnosed women.

“Women do not have to choose between having a family or achieving good disease control. In fact, going through the pregnancy process and breastfeeding has at least neutral or even possible positive effects on long-term disease control based on speculated hormonal and immune factors. Engaging with an MS specialist continues to be imperative as tailored
advice will depend on the individual’s pregnancy, disease activity and the treatment they are already on, if any, says Dr Yam.”
Jodi Haartsen, MS Limited’s Executive Manager for Client Engagement and Wellbeing and a MS Nurse for almost 20 years, says that MS is more common among women of childbearing age than in any other group and that family planning is at the forefront of women’s minds when diagnosed.
“A woman’s main worries are not only about how to manage MS symptoms but also how other important aspects of her life such as social connections, work, carer responsibilities and family planning will be impacted.
“Ten years ago, the medical advice for women living with MS was uncertain about having children, and it was thought that pregnancy could worsen the disease’s long-term effects. However, today thanks to better understanding through research
and improved health outcomes with disease modifying therapies women living with MS can have children and resume their treatment without experiencing an increased risk of relapses during the postpartum period, said Ms Haartsen.”
Each woman diagnosed with MS is different and has unique health and personal needs, so broad advice definitely needs to be tailored to the individual and considered holistically.
MS Limited is focused on supporting women living with MS in a holistic way through providing information about many topics including family planning, peer support and wellbeing programs. The Living with MS in 2019 report revealed that emotional support is a critical factor especially at the time of diagnosis.
During Women’s Health Week MS Limited is holding a series of live webinars encouraging women living with MS to look at their health with a 360-degree view. They are:
Webinar: How MS research is improving clinical care for Women – Monday, 7 September, 2:30 – 3:30pm with neurologist,

Associate Professor Anneke van der Walt from Alfred Health in Melbourne. She leads the Multiple Sclerosis and Neuro-ophthalmology Research Group at the Central Clinical School, Monash University.

Webinar: What is it with hormones and MS? – Tuesday, 8 September, 10am – 11am presented by Professor Jeannette
Lechner-Scott who will discuss the impact of family planning, hormonal changes and pregnancy on MS. Dr Lechner-Scott is a senior staff specialist in the Department of Neurology and Conjoint Professor at the University of Newcastle, and leads the MS Research Team at the Hunter Medical Research Institute.