Father kissing his baby's head

What if Dad has MS?

Women with multiple sclerosis (MS) will have many questions for their doctor if they are planning to become pregnant after they’ve been diagnosed. (See Is it safe to breastfeed? MSology, Aug. 23, 2012).

But what about men. Will multiple sclerosis have an effect on the baby?

A Canadian study presented at the European Neurology Society annual meeting in Barcelona, Spain, has examined this previously unasked question (Lu and colleagues. ENS 2013). The researchers examined information from the provincial MS database in British Columbia with birth registry information. The goal was to identify birth fathers with and without MS to see if their babies were different.

The result: no difference. The babies’ birth weight was about the same whether or not the father had MS, and the duration of the partner’s pregnancy was very similar. So a father’s MS did not seem to have any impact on the developing fetus.

There is limited evidence to suggest that MS can have some effects on a man’s sperm count (Safarinejad MR. J Neuroendocrinol 2008;20:1368-1375); only one study has looked at this and more studies are needed. MS therapies are generally not reported to affect sperm quality but there are a couple of exceptions. It’s best to avoid potent immunosuppressants such as mitoxantrone and cyclophosphamide, which can harm sperm (Cavalla and colleagues. Eurol Sci 2006;27:231-239). Among the more recent drugs, a possible concern is Tecfidera (BG-12), which has been associated with testicular toxicity in animals, according to the product monograph. This toxicity has not been studied in humans so little else is known. More research is needed on the effects of MS therapies on sperm quality.

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