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Study shows how MS affects family planning decision making #ECTRIMS

Many people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) are of childbearing age, therefore, in a bid to understand any important family planning concerns they might have, researchers have surveyed a segment of people with MS from six countries.

Three hundred and thirty-two people with MS were recruited from a specialist patient panel agency to participate in a smartphone-enabled standing panel, conducted across the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The survey consisted of 70-80 questions that focused on decision making and information sources in family planning, as well as behaviours during and after pregnancy. Male patients did not respond to specific questions on pregnancy. 

Out of 332 participants, 271 were female and 185 of these females were of childbearing age (18-45 years). In the 35-45 age subgroup 77 were less likely to have children (40% USA, 50% UK, 45% France, 60% Germany, 30% Italy and 38% Spain) than females of the same age in the general population US and United Nations censuses (16-19%).

Overall, 116 of the sample stated that MS altered (21%) or made them decide against (14%) having children, while 22 (6%) indicated the condition delayed their plans for having children, 50 (15%) said it led to minimal impact and 144 (44%) indicated no impact on plans.

When it came to the primary source of information on family planning health care professionals such as neurologists (41%), obstetricians (16%), general practitioners and family physicians (15%), MS nurses (9%) came out on top and are listed in order of popularity.

The secondary source of information was search engines and online and the third stated various sources. The remaining participants opted for ‘non-applicable’. Some 258 (78%) of people with MS indicated that family planning was not considered when selecting treatment.

Researchers concluded that in this study, 56% of people with MS reported that the condition affected, with different degrees of impact, their family planning decision-making and health care professionals were the main source of information.

This study was shared at ECTRIMS 2019, 24th annual conference of rehabilitation in MS, in Stockholm, Sweden.

Source: MS-UK 24/09/19

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