Disease-Modifying Drugs and Family Planning in People with Multiple Sclerosis: A Consensus Narrative Review from the Gulf Region

Raed Alroughani*, Jihad Inshasi, Abdullah Al-Asmi, Jaber Alkhabouri, Taoufik Alsaadi, Abdullah Alsalti, Amir Boshra, Beatriz Canibano, Samar Farouk Ahmed, Ahmed Shatila

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Most disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) are contraindicated in pregnancy. Management of MS is especially challenging for pregnant patients, as withdrawal of DMDs leave the patient at risk of increased disease activity. We, a group of experts in MS care from countries in the Arab Gulf, present our consensus recommendations on the management of MS in these patients. Where possible, a patient planning pregnancy can be switched to a DMD considered safe in this setting. Interferon β now can be used during pregnancy, where there is a clinical need to maintain treatment, in addition to glatiramer acetate. Natalizumab (usually to 30 weeks’ gestation for patients with high disease activity at high risk of relapse and disability progression) may also be continued into pregnancy. Cladribine tablets and alemtuzumab have been hypothesised to act as immune reconstitution therapies (IRTs). These drugs provide a period of prolonged freedom from relapses for many patients, but the patient must be prepared to wait for up to 20 months from initiation of therapy before becoming pregnant. If a patient becomes pregnant while taking fingolimod, and requires continued DMD treatment, a switch to interferon β or natalizumab after a variable washout period may be prescribed, depending on the level of disease activity. Women who wish to breastfeed should be encouraged to do so, and interferon β may also be used during breastfeeding. There is a lack of data regarding the safety of using other DMDs during breastfeeding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-280
Number of pages16
JournalNeurology and Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Breastfeeding
  • Disease-modifying drugs
  • Family planning
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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