Maternal multiple sclerosis is not a risk factor for neurodevelopmental disorders in offspring

Alessandra Carta, Ignazio R. Zarbo, Chiara Scoppola, Giulia Pisuttu, Marta Conti, Maria C. Melis, Federica De Martino, Antonella Serra, Maria A. Biancu, Franca R. Guerini, Riccardo Bazzardi, Stefano Sotgiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Childhood neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs), including specific learning disorders (SLD), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), are pathogenically linked to familial autoimmunity and maternal immune-mediated diseases during pregnancy. Objective: We studied maternal MS as a potential risk factor for NDDs occurrence in offspring. Methods: MS and control mothers were subjected to questionnaires to ascertain NDD diagnosis in their progeny and the occurrence of both autoimmune and neurodevelopment disorders in their families. Suspected NDD cases were evaluated to confirm or rule out the diagnosis. Results: Of the 322 MS women, 206 (64%) have 361 children; of these, 27 (7.5%) were diagnosed with NDD (11% ADHD; 22% ASD; 67% SLD). NDD-risk in offspring was associated to family history of autoimmunity and to NDDs both in MS and non-MS mother families (r = 0.75; p = 0.005) whereas it was not associated to maternal MS. Conclusions: For the first time, we demonstrate that maternal MS does not predispose children to higher risk for NDD. On a mechanistic view, we suggest that the intrinsic organ-specific nature of MS does not impair the mother–child cross-talk in decidua nor does it influence fetal neurodevelopment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMultiple Sclerosis Journal - Experimental, Translational and Clinical
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • attention deficit hyperactivity/impulsivity disorder
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • specific learning disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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