Research Report – Ep8. Pregnancy and MS

18 October, 2018

About this episode – Pregnancy and MS

In this episode we speak to Dr Ai-Lan Nguyen at Royal Melbourne Hospital who is carrying out a research project looking at pregnancy and MS. She trying to better understand the role of pregnancy in MS, and will be looking at women and all their pregnancies before the onset of MS to see whether or not having pregnancies before MS may be protective and delay the onset of MS.

Dr Nguyen explains how the role of pregnancy in MS has undergone a huge change in the last 20 years, as up until the late 1990’s women were advised not to have children or fall pregnant because it was thought to be a bad thing for MS. However, a large seminal study in the late 1990’s showed that actually during pregnancy itself, patients’ relapses go down. Since then, researchers have been exploring pregnancy and MS over the course of a woman’s lifetime.

Researchers are interested not just in the role of relapses while a woman is pregnant, but also whether pregnancy could possibly be protective for the onset of MS, as well as whether having children or having pregnancies during the course of MS may reduce disability in the future.

Dr Nguyen outlines how currently we don’t know whether having children before MS is a good thing, or whether it doesn’t change anything. Her study involves gathering and comparing data from women who attend the MS clinic and analysing this information to see when the diagnosis was so she can compare women who were pregnant before MS to those who weren’t pregnant before MS. She will then be able to look at the time frame from when they developed MS to see whether or not women with pregnancies may have had a potentially longer onset or would have been diagnosed at a later stage compared to those who didn’t. She is also hoping to investigate the possibility that the more children someone has, maybe the more protective it could be as well.

About Dr Ai-Lan Nguyen

Dr Nguyen currently works as a neurologist at Royal Melbourne Hospital and is concurrently working on her PhD at The University of Melbourne. Dr Nguyen is also working on another project which is funded by MS Research Australia. Find out more about her ‘Predicting and monitoring the long term effects of MS‘ project.

What is the Research Report video series?

MS Research Australia’s Research Report is a series dedicated to exploring and explaining research happening into MS in Australia and around the world.

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