Breastfeeding During Infancy Is Associated With a Lower Future Risk of Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis

J. Nicholas Brenton, Casey E. Engel, Min Woong Sohn, Myla D. Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background Risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) is influenced by environment and genetics. Infant breastfeeding appears protective against some childhood autoimmune disorders, but its impact on risk of MS in childhood is unknown. The objective of this study is to analyze the association of breastfeeding in infancy on future risk of pediatric-onset MS. Basic Procedures Biological mothers of 36 consecutive pediatric-onset MS patients completed a questionnaire on history of breastfeeding and various birth and demographic factors. The control group consisted of 72 otherwise healthy patients with a diagnosis of migraine and normal brain magnetic resonance imaging obtained less than 12 months before enrollment. Inverse probability of treatment weighting was used to reduce selection bias and balance the covariates between breastfed and non–breastfed children. Main Findings Demographics (with the exception of body mass index) and birth factors were not significantly different between groups. Whereas 36% of cases were breastfed, 71% of controls were breastfed (P = 0.001). The median duration of breastfeeding was 0 weeks (range: 0 to 40 weeks) for cases and 16 weeks (range: 0 to 216 weeks) for controls. Lack of infant breastfeeding was associated with future diagnosis of pediatric-onset MS (odds ratio = 4.43; 95% confidence interval, 1.68 to 11.71; P = 0.003). This association remained significant after correcting for covariates, such as body mass index and age at diagnosis. Conclusions These data demonstrate that absence of infant breastfeeding has an association with an increased risk of pediatric-onset MS diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-72
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Neurology
StatePublished - Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.


  • autoimmune
  • breastfeeding
  • multiple sclerosis
  • obesity
  • pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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