Cesarean delivery and artificial lactation are associated with an earlier onset of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to new research presented at the 7th Joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS Meeting, held October 25-28, 2017, in Paris, France.

Researchers selected 2055 patients with MS for the study, and defined age at onset as the age when the first symptom appeared that suggested inflammatory central nervous system demyelination. The mean age at MS onset was 28.4 years (SD 8.4 years). In total, 10.9% of the cohort was born from a cesarean delivery and 40.1% received artificial lactation.

Compared with people with MS born from a natural delivery, onset of symptoms occurred 5.2 years earlier for those born from a cesarean delivery (P <.001). Artificial lactation was also associated with earlier onset of symptoms (-2.2 years) compared with breastfed patients, in which the age of MS onset was directly linked to the duration of breastfeeding.

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The results indicate that cesarean delivery and artificial lactation may be linked to an earlier age of onset of MS. “[T]he results suggest that environmental factors which act at the population level may significantly influence disease severity characteristics in genetically susceptible populations,” the researchers concluded.


Dalla Costa G. Cesarean delivery and artificial lactation are associated with an earlier age of disease onset in multiple sclerosis. Presented at: 7th Joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS Meeting; October 25-28, 2017; Paris, France. Abstract P1855.