Low Vitamin D Levels Not Tied to Postpartum MS Relapses

But pregnancy and exclusive breast-feeding are related to lower levels in women with MS

THURSDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Although pregnancy and exclusive breast-feeding are strongly related to low vitamin D levels in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, these low levels are not related to an increased risk of postpartum MS relapses, according to research published online Nov. 8 in the Archives of Neurology.

Annette Langer-Gould, M.D., of Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena, and colleagues assessed 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in 28 pregnant women with MS during the third trimester and at three intervals after giving birth, and followed them through the first year after delivery to determine if low vitamin D levels are associated with the risk of postpartum MS relapse.

The researchers found that 14 women (50 percent) breast-fed exclusively and 12 women (43 percent) experienced a postpartum MS relapse within six months after giving birth. Vitamin D levels appeared to be significantly affected by breast-feeding and relapse status during the postpartum period. Vitamin D levels stayed low in those who breast-fed exclusively, but rose significantly in those who did not breast-feed exclusively. The authors concluded that the lower vitamin D levels associated with breast-feeding and pregnancy were not associated with a higher risk of MS relapses postpartum. In fact, by three to six months after childbirth, vitamin D levels were slightly higher in women who relapsed within six months of giving birth than in those who did not.

"Our results suggest that future studies aimed at identifying and unraveling the relationship between vitamin D, pregnancy/lactation-related hormones, and regulation of MS inflammation may reveal novel insights into MS pathophysiology," the authors write.

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