Having children

Another post from me… my wife and I are getting to the stage where we’re discussing having a baby. Research a couple of years suggested that there was very little chance of passing anything on. Now what I’m reading is that your child will potentially have a much higher risk of developing ms. This is devastating news to me I haven’t mentioned it to my wife and I don’t really know what to do now any thoughts?

Hi Blagaman

I totally understand how you feel just with a role reversal in that I am the one with MS and debating pregnancy. I have a daughter already who is 18 and worry about her increased risk however there are lifestyle choices that are known to make a difference that we can then encourage them to make which will keep risk as low as possible.

I worry but then I try to be realistic and that this should not impact on decision to have a family. There is so much that we potentially pass on that increases a child’s likelihood of developing something that we are totally unaware of. We do not know all the genes that we are passing on and how our own gene code has been changed due to our lifestyle and environment. The whole area of epigenetics is fascinating. And think of all the other things that a child may develop as they get older. Most people would not avoid having a child if they had experienced cancer themselves even though a gene can be passed on increasing the child’s risk of developing it themselves.

As a midwife I would suggest that you and your wife meet with MS nurse or consultant to have pre conception advice/counselling. If you are on disease modifying therapy then this may be even more important as some require you to have a period of time with no medication before trying to conceive.

I am going on plegridy and from what I can make out there is no issue with that or certainly haven’t been told of it. I guess I just want to know the chances, I would never want to knowingly have a child if it had a 1 in 4 chance say if catching this totally rubbish disease. That’s the statistic I read last night. However I genuinely believe in 20 years there will be a cure. They seem so close but unfortunately for us so far!

That’s what I am starting. I think you are right it’s the harsher treatments to be wary of. Risk of cancer for anyone is 1 in 2 so worse odds. Consultant may be able to provide some reassurance. Lots of evidence and theories out there of things that may reduce that risk and that won’t do any harm vitamin d supplementation recommended during pregnancy, whilst breastfeeding and for children as a minimum up to age 5 years (my daughter is older and has now started to supplement), breastfeeding, keeping stress low, exercise, primarily plant based diet with omegas (fish or plant), reducing saturated fat intake all which are good for health in adults and children anyway and not just for MS.

I guess I look at it like you could have a child and they could be taken from you in any number of awful ways. Yes MS query will always be in the background but treatment is progressing all the time and I hope like you that one day there will be a cure. But think of all that you could give a child and what they in turn could give to the world. Even at a 1 in 4 risk that’s a 3 in 4 that they would not have MS in the future. I would also hope that if there is a parent-child link of MS and they developed symptoms in their life time that it would be a massive red flag to get in there with treatment ASAP.


There is good info on the main part of this site if you want to learn more about the odds and, I hope, be reassured by them. Genetics and MS | Multiple Sclerosis Society UK Family history is known to be a risk to some degree, but it is far from being the only one. Anyway, life is full of risks and joys, and all we can do is balance them off in our own lives as best we may. So please don’t be in a hurry to give up on your hopes and dreams. Good luck. Alison

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