They found that women who had been pregnant two or more times had a reduced risk of developing [multiple sclerosis]. Women who had five or more pregnancies had one-twentieth the risk of developing MS compared with women who were never pregnant….

Rates of MS have increased over the past several decades. This increase could reflect the fact that women are having fewer children, said the lead author of the study, Anne-Louise Ponsonby of Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia.

It’s not clear what it is about pregnancy that protects against MS or causes its temporary remission. It’s likely that hormones play a role, and studies are under way looking at estrogen as a treatment for the illness. It’s also possible that immune changes that take place during pregnancy alter symptoms of the disease as well as the risk of developing it.

~ Shari Roan, reporting on a recently-published study on central nervous demyelination,, March 14

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