Question: This is a difficult one, but let's give it a try. I am trying to decide whether or not I should have my own child, since I am terribly afraid of passing the disease to my child. Sometimes I try to encourage myself by thinking that medical research have done a great work lately for MS, and that very soon we might find a cure. In your opinion, how far are we from that moment, where having MS will be not more cumbersome than perhaps a need for taking a lifelong medication?
Answer: As recently as 10 years ago, I would shy away from directly answering questions like yours, since we did not have the technology or platforms to make rapid advances in MS or other diseases; all of this has changed, largely as a result of networks of physicians and patients beginning to work together to find more rapid solutions to health care problems. This is the crowd sharing revolution that has finally come to medical research. We (meaning the accelerated cure project) just received a large grant from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to set up a network of 20,000 MS patients for the purpose of large scale research studies. We are also forming a network of sites around the United States for a study called Opt-Up, for optimizing treatment and understanding progressive MS. This will provide many of the tools requires for large scale clinical studies. So I think we already have good solutions for MS patients and will have far better solutions in the next 15 to 20 years.
That being said, it is often difficult to decide on having children even if you do not have MS. So much depends on your prior attitudes towards becoming a parent (is it having children that is important or having your own children?), your age (increased risk of Down’s Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities with age), your goals in life, your supports, your finances and your own health. Plus having children is usually a decision between two people, which adds an extra layer of complexity. The risk of MS in your children is almost a minor consideration compared to these issues. The facts are well known; any of your children will have approximately a 9% risk of MS. So I recommend, all other things being equal, make your decision about having children independent of your concerns that some day they may too develop MS. Hope this helps.
-- Dr. Kinkel
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PLEASE NOTE: The information/opinions on this site should be used as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-HCP relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.