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Woman with MS gives birth to granddaughter

07 September 2015

By Ari Haque

Appeared in BioNews 818

A woman in the USA who acted as a surrogate for her daughter has given birth to her biological granddaughter.

Sherri Dickson, 51, volunteered to act as a surrogate after her daughter, Mandy Stephens, had difficulty conceiving naturally and lost a previous child after giving birth prematurely. Doctors said she was at risk of having another premature birth.

Stephens' mother and sister had both offered to act as surrogates but despite her age and also having multiple sclerosis (MS), the mother was considered more suitable as she had previously experienced three pregnancies. She had also not yet gone through menopause and was thought less likely to develop psychological attachment issues.

Dickson's MS, which can result in complications during pregnancy, was in remission at the time of pregnancy. Dickson's condition may even have benefitted from the pregnancy as research suggests that changes to the immune system during pregnancy can help to keep the disease in remission.

MS is believed to be partly caused by the body's immune system attacking myelin, but during pregnancy a woman's immune system changes so not to reject the fetus.

A form of oestrogen called estriol, believed to play a part in this, has been added to an existing MS drug in clinical studies, leading to an observed fall in the rate of relapses.

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