I intend this blog to be a mixture of my personal experiences with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and news related to MS. Hopefully, I can shed an optimistic light on MS even though it is difficult to be an optimist living with MS.

Monday, September 5, 2011

New MSF Mailer - Part II

Happy Labor Day!  I hope everyone has enjoyed the long weekend!  Now, for more from the MSF mailer:
New Research on Breastfeeding with MS Contradicts Previous Findings
Despite previous research suggesting otherwise, breastfeeding does not appear to protect against MS relapses, according to researchers from the University of Florence in Italy. Their study found that the likelihood of relapse after pregnancy was tied to relapses before and during pregnancy but not to whether the mothers in their study breastfed or not. They concluded breastfeeding may not be a feasible option for mothers at high risk of relapse after pregnancy, because they may need to resume drug treatments straight away.
Study author Dr. Emilio Portaccio and colleagues conducted a prospective study of 298 women recruited from 21 Italian MS centers and followed up their pregnancies from 2002 to 2008. During this time, 302 out of 423 pregnancies resulted in full-term delivery, and follow ups continued for at least one year after delivery. About 34 percent of the mothers breastfed for at least two months after delivery, while the remaining mothers breastfed for less than this or not at all and were considered as not breastfeeding. During the 12 months following delivery, 37 percent of the mothers had one relapse and 6.6 percent had two or more.
Using a statistical tool to look at several measures at once to see which have the strongest influence on relapse rate after pregnancy, they found that "the only significant predictors of postpartum relapses were relapses in the year before pregnancy ... and during pregnancy."
The data indicated women who had relapses in the 12 months leading up to their pregnancy were 50 percent more likely to have a relapse after delivery than women who did not have a relapse in the year before pregnancy. And women who had relapses during pregnancy were more than twice as likely to have a relapse after delivery as the women who did not experience relapses during pregnancy.
This was after taking into account influencing factors like age at onset of MS, age at pregnancy, duration of the disease, level of disability, and exposure to drugs, including any MS drugs. There was nothing to suggest breastfeeding worsened the relapse rate.
The researchers also suggested the link between breastfeeding and lower risk of relapses after pregnancy that previous studies have reported may "simply reflect different patient behavior, biased by the disease activity."
"Women who have fewer relapses before and during pregnancy may be more likely to breastfeed and then continue to have fewer relapses in the postpartum period," Portaccio says. However, he said that a course of steroids taken after pregnancy might protect against later attacks, and adds, "Approaches of this type were not assessed in this study and might, in consultation with the treating neurologist, enable breastfeeding."  The study was published in the journal Neurology.
Author Brings Cool Thoughts on Cognition when Heat Meets MS
The fact that heat can cause MS physical symptoms to flare has been well-established, but recent research has shed more light on the problems, confirming what people with MS already know:  Heat can further complicate the cognitive difficulties caused by the disease. Jeffrey Gingold, an award-winning author with MS and volunteer advocate on MS and cognitive disability, recently described his reactions to the research and to the “cognitive sludge” created by rising temperatures. You can read his article, “Cool Thoughts” in the Men and MS column in the summer issue of the MSFocus.
The second edition of Gingold’s popular book Facing the Cognitive Challenges of Multiple Sclerosis (Demos Health, 2011) was recently released. In it, he candidly describes his personal journey from MS diagnosis to learning how to cope with the many challenges the disease brings.  In Mental Sharpening Stones: Manage the Cognitive Challenges of Multiple Sclerosis (Demos Health, 2008) Gingold provides more real-life techniques that have been used with success by people with MS and their medical providers to pushing back against the disruptive and potentially disabling cognitive symptoms.
For a limited time, a 30 percent discount is being offered for those who buy the books at www.demoshealth.com.  Just enter the discount code SSGINGOLD30 during checkout and the percentage will automatically be deducted before checking out. There is an expiration date of 5/31/2013 for the discount.  
One hundred percent of the author’s royalties from the two books are donated to MS research and education.
A Study of Ocrelizumab in People with Primary Progressive MS
This randomized, parallel group, double-blind, placebo controlled study will evaluate the efficacy and safety of ocrelizumab in people with primary-progressive MS. Eligible patients will be randomized 2 to 1 to receive either ocrelizumab (300 mg intravenously, 2 infusions separated by 14 days in each treatment cycle) or placebo. The blinded treatment period will be at least 120 weeks, followed by open label treatment for people in both groups who, in the opinion of the investigator, could benefit from further or newly initiated ocrelizumab treatment. Anticipated time on study treatment is up to five and a half years.
For information on study locations and inclusion criteria go to www.clinicaltrials.gov and search for identifier number NCT01194570.
 I am amazed at the immense impact MS has on the body and mind.  MS truly affects every aspect of life, maybe not all day every day, but it sticks its nasty head in whenever it feels like it and in whatever way it wants.  It can affect balance, coordination, ability to walk, feeling, sleep, thought processes, memory, etc, etc, etc.  The list goes on and on and on.  Don't you just wish that there was something that it couldn't touch?  Hopefully all this great research will lead to a cure!  Continuing to be optimistic although some days that isn't easy.

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